Book World Stores Closing: E-Commerce Kills Wisconsin Bookstore Chain

book world stores closing

All Book World Stores Closing Across the Country

A 40-year-old American bookstore chain is going out of business, leaving hundreds out of work. The Appleton, Wisconsin-based Book World Inc. is closing all of its stores in the United States (and one store in Peru), blaming its decline on the rise of e-commerce. The 45 Book World stores that will be closing will result in 325 layoffs.

The Book World locations that are closing include about 20 stores in its home state and others in Minnesota, Missouri, Michigan, Illinois, North Dakota, and Iowa. Liquidation sales have begun at all Book World stores, and will continue until all inventory is sold out.

The midwestern store chain sells books, magazines, games, puzzles, toys, and other products. The company is reportedly the fourth-largest bookstore chain in the United States,  yet, its dominance in the book-selling industry couldn’t save it from the growing competition from e-commerce.

E-commerce and Amazon to Blame for Book World Stores Closing?

Online bookstore companies, the most notable of which is, Inc., have disrupted the brick-and-mortar book-selling industry with their steep discounts and quick delivery service.


The brick-and-mortar retail sector as a whole has been suffering at the hands of digital retailers for the past several years. Many major department stores, which have long served as mall anchors, are wrapping up their businesses across the country.

Retail companies including Sears Holdings CorpMacy’s Inc, and J C Penney Company Inc have jointly shuttered hundreds of stores in major malls this year. These malls are consequently facing a drop in foot traffic, as shoppers turn to online shopping.

Declining mall traffic has resulted in a loss of sales at smaller stores in the malls. Book World partly attributes the drop in its sales to declining mall traffic.

Book World’s Senior Vice President, Mark Dupont, explained the bookstore chain’s miseries in a media release: “The national shift in the retail marketplace towards e-commerce has triggered the loss of vital mall anchor stores and a downward spiral in customer counts at Book World stores, reducing sales to a level that will no longer sustain business operations.”

News of the Book World stores closing will certainly leave many book enthusiasts sorrowful. But, chances are, with more Americans reading books on e-readers, the absence of one more paper bookseller from the market may not be seen as a major setback. For the hundreds of employees who will be losing their jobs, however, the store closures are certainly a misfortune, and those workers may be blaming it all on Amazon and other e-commerce companies.



Book World closing all stores, including 1 in Peru Mall,” News Tribune, October 31, 2017.

Wisconsin-Based Book World Closing All 45 Stores in 7 States,” U.S. News & World Report, November 1, 2017.