Haven’t talked much about the book industry in the past month (here was my last update on the subject at the end of July, so here’s a brief, but interesting update. With the (untimely?) demise of Borders, Books-A-Million (BAM) is now the United States’ second-largest book retailer. And now that the first quarter 2011 report is available (here’s a good summary of it), it’s clear that BAM isn’t in terribly good shape.
BAM currently has about 200 stores, and it’s opening six new ones. It’s also still trying to acquire 14 more in bankruptcy court from Borders. So that’s all to the good, but its overall and same-store sales are down. BAM blames that on customers’ transition to ebooks. And BAM has no ebook division of note (they make up 0% of overall sales because of rounding). Uh-oh. Plus, let’s face it, BAM is tiny, making up just 2% of the total book retail market, as compared with 11% for Borders and 17% for B&N. I should also note that books make up just 76% of BAM’s sales, with the rest made up of games, toys, coffee, and — oddly — yogurt, which they apparently sell at 30 Yogurt Mountain stores they own.
I also found it interesting that the demographics of typical BAM customers are different from that of Borders and B&N (less household affluence and education). This piece mentions that BAM also has much more of a focus on Christian books and merchandise, which is the second time I’ve read that, though I can’t say that it’s leaped out at me whenever I’ve been in a BAM.
I don’t have a convenient BAM location near me, though I often hit one up in the DC area when I’m there visiting or doing research, and I’ve always enjoyed their large remainder selection. I hope they do well and continue to survive, but I’m concerned that they’re following down Borders’ path. Declining store sales, no ebook division, etc. Should be interesting to see where they end up a year or two from now.