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Barnes & Noble closes the book on Fifth Ave. store | Crain's New York Business

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January 7, 2014 3:45 p.m. Updated 01/07/2014

Barnes & Noble closes the book on Fifth Ave. store

The bookseller notified 56 employees Tuesday of layoffs this month as a change in customers' habits doomed a location that catered to college students.

By Adrianne Pasquarelli
Photo: Buck Ennis Barnes & Noble plans to close 15 to 20 of its stores this year. The company now has half a dozen retail locations in Manhattan, including its Union Square store (pictured above).

Barnes & Noble is shrinking its Manhattan presence even further. The chain shuttered its college bookstore at 105 Fifth Ave., on the corner of East 18th Street, on Monday evening. On Tuesday, Barnes & Noble filed a notice with the New York State Dept. of Labor, warning that 56 employees of the closed shop would be laid off by the end of January. The outpost was the company's first college bookstore.

The Fifth Avenue shop, which is located just a few blocks from the chain's Union Square flagship, primarily sold textbooks as well as trade volumes. An answering message at the location was directing customers to the Union Square outpost for their textbook needs by Tuesday afternoon.

"Our 18th Street store served college students at a time when not many colleges had bookstores on campus," said a Barnes & Noble spokeswoman. "Today, students purchase their books on campus, and when books are unavailable, students buy them from online booksellers, including" Indeed, through its college bookseller business, Barnes & Noble operates several stores at college campuses across the country.

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Last summer, Barnes & Noble announced it would close 15 to 20 stores this year as it struggles to remain relevant at time when many readers are buying electronic books. The company now has half a dozen retail locations in Manhattan, many of them sizable. Real estate brokers have said that tenants are always eying Barnes & Noble spaces, waiting for the chain to vacate.

For the six-month period ending Oct. 26, Barnes & Noble suffered a net loss of $74 million, roughly double the year-earlier figure. Revenues dropped more than 8% to $3.06 billion for the period.

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