PITTSFIELD -- A Barnes & Noble spokeswoman Monday declined to comment on the future of the company's Pittsfield outlet in the wake of a published report that claimed Barnes & Noble Inc. intends to close as many as a third of its retail stores over the next 10 years.
"We are not going to comment store by store," Barnes & Noble spokeswoman Mary Ellen Keating stated in an email.
Mitchell Klipper, the chief executive of Barnes & Noble's retail group, told the Wall Street Journal that the Fortune 500 company should be operating between 450 and 500 stores a decade from now. The company currently operates 689 retail stores across the country, along with a separate chain of 674 college stores.
The chain has closed an average of 15 stores each year over the past decade, but was also opening at least 30 new stores each year until 2009. That was also the year that Barnes & Noble became a leader in ebook sales, according to the company's website.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Barnes & Noble's store openings have declined because a shift to digital books has changed the book seller's market and prevented developers from opening new shopping malls. In fiscal year 2012, Barnes & Noble closed 14 stores, but opened no new ones.
In a statement, Keating stated the numbers reported by the Wall Street Journal "are consistent with analysts' expectations," but said the bookseller "has not adjusted its store closing plan whatsoever."
"The Wall Street Journal article implies that our rate of store closures has changed," Keating said. "We have historically closed approximately 15 stores per year for the past 10 years. Of that number some of the stores are unprofitable while others are relocations to better properties."
Barnes & Noble opened two new prototype stores in 2012, and plans to test other prototypes this year, Keating said.
"Barnes & Noble has great real estate in prime locations, and the company's management is fully committed to the retail concept for the long term," Keating said.
The manager of Barnes & Noble's Pittsfield store declined comment and referred all questions to the company. The store has been located in the Berkshire Crossing shopping mall since 1995.