Books-A-Million closes Hamilton Place site, says others unaffected

Books-A-Million closes Hamilton Place site, says others unaffected

September 28th, 2011 by Dave Flessner in Business Around the Region

Janie Thomas peers into the closed Books-A-Million store on Gunbarrel Road on Tuesday. The bookstore closed its doors on Tuesday morning.

Photo by Jake Daniels/Times Free Press.

Books-A-Million has closed its store near Hamilton Place mall, but the Alabama-based retailer put up signs at the shuttered outlet to assure consumers that the cutbacks at Books-A-Million are not as extensive as other book retailers.

A sign hanging over the Gunbarrel Road store shut down Saturday night indicates that the closing is for "this store only." Other Books-A-Million stores elsewhere in the market in Hixson, Cleveland and Dalton, Ga., remain open along with most of the chain's 232 stores.

According to recent news reports, the Chattanooga store is among at least five Books-A-Million outlets closed in the past two months after the retailer reported that same-store sales in the first half of 2011 were down 13.1 percent from a year ago.

Books-A-Million managers in Chattanooga declined to discuss the closings. But company CEO Clyde Anderson blamed the company's sales decline on "a soft publishing lineup, the effect of e-book migration and the impact of Border's liquidation."

With the bankruptcy liquidation this summer of Border's bookstores, Books-A-Million now is the second largest bookstore chain behind only Barnes & Noble.

Book stores continue to be squeezed by online competitors like Amazon, e-readers like the Kindle and iPad and the overall decline in book sales. Book sales fell nearly 5 percent in 2010 to 717.8 million from 751.7 million last year, according to Nielsen data.

Rock Point Books, an independent book store, closed its downtown Chattanooga store last December.

"The saddest part of it is that we are losing the culture of the independent bookstore and all the things that go with it," said Albert Waterhouse, one of the former owners of Rock Point Books.

"From an economic impact standpoint, the money spent with any online retailer doesn't stay in the local market, which affects tax collections and job growth," he said.

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