After making a loss of $125 million in the 2018 fiscal year, Barnes and Noble has announced that it is in the process of putting itself up for sale. The largest brick and mortar bookstore chain may have won the battle with Borders, but it is losing the war against Amazon. It may also be facing a hostile takeover, but has adopted a "poison pill" to discourage the sharks circling its bloated corpse.
It's unlikely that B&N will disappear completely. It will likely shrink, ditch some more of its superstores and close some unprofitable locations. But it won't go away completely. It still does $3.7 billion in sales which isn't chump change. It may even declare Chapter 11 bankruptcy, forcing it to trim down to a booth in a few suburban malls—which are facing a reckoning of their own.
Readers will still be served by Amazon and a thriving sector of independent book sellers. (Queens now has three and counting!)
What about us authors? We should still be OK. We've also got Amazon, and indie and self publishing is always an option.
The sector that will suffer the most is traditional publishing. Without B&N, the publishing industry looks desperately weak. A few decades, even just ten years ago, the only way for publishers to connect readers and authors was via chains like Borders and B&N. (Let us also light a candle for Waldenbooks, Crown Books and B. Dalton) But with the rise of online shopping and the juggernaut that is Amazon, a large corporate publishing industry is looking less like a necessity than a dinosaur of the analog age.
Those of us who still dream of signing with the big five had better retool and rethink our publishing strategy. The options are disappearing fast and it is going to affect the choices we make.