Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 2, 2014

Friday Is End of the Line for Union Station Barnes & Noble

A day before its Union Station outpost permanently shuts the doors, Barnes & Noble Inc. reported earnings dragged down by promotional allowances and touted its e-reader’s ability to pull traffic into brick-and-mortar stores.

Too late, it appears, for the Union Station store.

According to the report, the book retailer’s consolidated revenues for the quarter ending Jan. 23 were $2.2 billion, which shows an 8.8 percent decrease as compared with last year’s figures.

Employees at the doomed Capitol Hill bookstore told HOH that they were not allowed to comment on their store’s imminent closure.

“We’re not allowed to say anything about it,” the manager said.

“Same thing happened at Georgetown,” another employer chimed in from behind the counter, where a magazine holder was chock-full of last month’s copy of The Atlantic.

The Georgetown Barnes & Noble shut down last January.

Part of the overall drop in revenue was because B&N recorded a pretty penny in allowances to optimize future sales opportunities for the Nook, according to the report. They’re counting on the e-reader to bring customers into flagging brick-and-mortar stores as well.

“Without question, our bookstores have made a significant contribution to Nook’s success over the past three years,” B&N CEO William Lynch said in the report. “And, in turn, our award-winning line of Nook products have proven to be a strong driver of traffic to our stores.”

Barnes & Noble offers in-store support for Nook users as well as promotional free reading on Wi-Fi for up to one hour at Nook stations located in most stores.

Here in Union Station, a handful of customers milled around the store Thursday. One man talked on his cellphone while another absently thumbed the corners of the mass-market merchandise and a woman with a rolling suitcase squinted at the magazine selection.

Nobody, though, was at the Nook station.

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