For nearly every bookstore Barnes & Noble loses this year, Amazon will open a new one

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Image: AP Photo/Elaine Thompson
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Americans are swapping bookstores.

Bookselling chain Barnes & Noble will lose a total of eight stores across the United States by the end of this fiscal year, but digital behemoth Amazon will fill the gap by December.

Last week, Amazon opened a store in Chicago, Illinois, its first physical bookstore not in a coastal city, and the second of the seven it plans to open this calendar year.

Meanwhile, Barnes & Noble plans to open four new stores and close 12 by April 30, according to David Deason, vice president of development. It already closed the only general-interest bookstore in the New York City borough of the Bronx. Last fiscal year the company closed eight locations.

Eight was good news for the bookstore chain: It was the fewest closings Barnes & Noble had seen since 2000, says Deason, and five fewer than originally planned. Barnes & Noble also opened three “concept” stores last fiscal year, which included attached restaurants with $11 hummus.

But as Barnes & Noble goes through an identity crisis, Amazon is extending its reach. The e-commerce giant opened its first store in November 2015 in a Seattle, Washington mall—where a Barnes & Noble sold books until 2011—and has since has picked up the pace of brick-and-mortar openings.

Last year, Amazon opened bookstores in San Diego, California and Portland, Oregon. This year, it has seven more locations slated to open, including one at Columbus Circle in New York City. At the Amazon Books stores, things are a little different from the model of its chain predecessors: On the shelves, covers face out instead of spines; prices are unlisted so they can fluctuate with online changes; and books are picked and grouped by their online user rating scores.

Correction: Barnes & Noble will lose eight stores in its fiscal year 2017, not the next year.