Has Barnes & Noble Made a Successful Turnaround in the Digital Age?

Has Barnes & Noble Made a Successful Turnaround in the Digital Age?
Case Code: HROB258
Case Length: 20 Pages
Period: 1995-2022
Pub Date: 2024
Teaching Note: Available
Price: Rs.500
Organization: Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Inc.
Industry: Retailing
Countries: United States
Themes: Turnaround Strategy, Leadership and Change Management, Business Environment,Digital Disruption
Has Barnes & Noble Made a Successful Turnaround in the Digital Age?
Abstract Case Intro 1 Case Intro 2 Excerpts


The case “Has Barnes & Noble Made A Successful Turnaround in the Digital Age?” discusses whether the world’s largest retail bookseller, Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Inc., (B&N) has been able to turn around the business, after it had been pushed to the verge of bankruptcy by its inability to compete effectively in the digital age. The case begins with a brief background note on B&N and mentions the factors that led to its occupying a strong market position in the bookselling industry. The case then looks at how the entry of online retail behemoth Amazon.com, Inc. (Amazon) completely disrupted the bookselling business and played a critical role in B&N’s downfall.

The case then documents the turnaround efforts of B&N’s CEO James Daunt, a veteran independent bookseller who had previously played a key role in reviving Britain’s largest bookstore chain, Waterstones Booksellers Ltd. that had been in financial trouble. By 2023, it was evident that B&N’s fortunes were on the mend, as the retail bookseller announced plans to expand its footprint. The case contemplates whether the COVID-19 pandemic that stimulated an interest in reading and book-buying actually played a role in B&N’s resurgence. Considering the fact that Amazon continues to dominate the US bookselling industry, can B&N – which seems once again to be carving out a place for itself in the bookselling industry – survive and flourish in the future?


The case is structured to achieve the following teaching objectives:

  • Understand the reasons that drive an organization to undertake brand repositioning.
  • Analyze the causes of a company’s insolvency.
  • Design turnaround recovery strategies for a company on the verge of bankruptcy.
  • Examine the impact of the business environment on an organization’s prospects.
  • Develop strategies for challenger brands to fight against market leaders.



Turnaround Strategy,Leadership,Digital Disruption,Experiential Bookselling,Recovery Strategies,Insolvency,Challenger Brands,Turnaround Leaders,Brand Repositioning,PEST Analysis,Image Repositioning,Business Environment,Expansion Plans,Competitive Strategies ,Business Revival,BookTok ; E-Reader; E-Book; Digital Age; Online Bookselling; Specialty Retail; Public Image; Localization; Independent Booksellers; Co-Op Title Placement

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