Disappointing sales and the fall of the bookstore are contributing to the closure of more Barnes and Noble locations. And this week in particular, there are signs that Barnes and Noble is perhaps doing even worse than we thought.
According to this blog post from Melville House Books, sales from this past holiday season absolutely plummeted — an 11% decrease in store sales and a 12.6% decline in Nook sales. Ultimately, hundreds of Barnes and Noble stores closed across the country throughout the holiday season. Most frightening about these closures is that most of them happened in large cities, like Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C.
And yet, it gets worse. According to Huffington Post, this week through March 30th, the chain store is giving away the Nook Simple Touch for free with every purchase of the Nook HD+, reporting that its Nook business saw a steep 26% decline in sales in its holiday quarter.
Apparently, as color tablets rise in popularity, the desire for a Nook Simple Touch (a black-and-white standard e-reader) has diminished.
So what does this all mean for Barnes and Noble? One thing’s for sure. It doesn’t look good.
As Amazon continues its reign as online retail powerhouse, Wal-Mart will no longer sell the Amazon Kindle in its stores.
According to The New York Times, Wal-Mart will sell what’s left of the Kindles with no plans to re-stock once they run out. Kindles will also be pulled from walmart.com and Sam’s Club. Wal-Mart will, however, continue to sell similar e-readers by other companies, including Apple, Google, Barnes & Noble, and Samsung.
Wal-Mart did not give a reason for the drop, but analysts say it’s obvious. Amazon has become more of a competitor than companion. Experts say when people shop in stores like Wal-Mart and see the Kindle, it encourages them to go home and purchase the Kindle online along with books, games, and movies from Amazon.com, taking Wal-Mart’s business elsewhere.
Analysts also say the drop won’t affect business at Wal-Mart very much, as Stephanie Clifford and Julie Bosman explain.
Moreover, the Kindle line, and most tablets, are only marginally profitable for retailers, said Sarah Rotman Epps, an analyst at Forrester Research.
“A lot of them have had it with tablets other than the iPad,” she said. “They’re not high-margin products, and other than Apple ones, no one is selling these devices in great volumes anyway. For Wal-Mart to drop Amazon is more of a symbolic blow rather than a substantive one.”
Wal-Mart’s not the first store to drop Amazon Kindle products. In May, Target also dropped Amazon products from its stores.
In an effort to bypass Amazon, Barnes and Noble announced this morning it is releasing two new high-definition versions of the company’s popular e-reader, the Nook HD. This comes after Amazon announced earlier this month it would release four new versions of the Kindle, including the Kindle Fire in HD.
According to the Associated Press, the Nook HD will come in two sizes, one with a 7-inch screen for $199 and one with a 9-inch screen, called the Nook HD+ for $269. It will also be lighter and narrower than Amazon’s new Kindles. In order to compete with Amazon, the Nook HD will offer a video purchase and rental service for both movies and TV shows, making it more of a tablet and less of an e-reader.
Barnes & Noble will continue to sell its Nook Simple Touch and Nook Simple Touch with backlight, but will start phasing out the Nook Tablet and Nook Color.
Experts say there are pros and cons to both the new Nook HD and Kindle HD, as Mae Anderson explains.
On specs alone, the new Nook presents a tough choice for consumers seeking a cheap option to the iPad this holiday, analysts say. The 7-inch Nook HD is slightly lighter and narrower, with a sharper display than the similarly priced 7-inch Kindle Fire.
“If the decision the consumer is making is whether to buy based on hardware, these new Nooks will beat out Amazon,” said Forrester analyst James McQuivey. “But that’s not the decision every consumer is going to make — hardware is only as good as the services the hardware enables.”
So far, Amazon offers more services, McQuivey said, with a bigger app store, and more extensive video library, not to mention Amazon’s vast product offerings and its Amazon Prime free-shipping service.
One thing the new Nook HD has going for it? Some retailers like Walmart and Target have stopped selling Amazon’s Kindle because of the online competition, but Barnes & Noble products will still be available in these stores.
One of the things I’ve always loved about libraries is that you can read for free. That’s the point, right? Since I was a little girl, I have been a huge supporter of the library. So when it came time for me to get an e-reader, I wanted the Nook, the only one — at that time — that could download e-books from the library.
But according to the Associated Press, a recent Pew Research Center study shows e-book library borrowing is not very popular. Here are the reasons why:
1. People don’t know if their libraries offer e-books for download.
2. Libraries offer a limited selection of e-books.
3. The e-books are not offered in the available format for a particular e-reader.
4. Some publishers don’t make their e-books available at libraries because they’re scared it will hurt sales.
Though I love borrowing e-books, I think these are pretty valid complaints, except for #1. (I’m sorry, but if you’ve got an e-reader, one of the first things you should do is find out if your library offers e-books. And these days, most do.) The limited selection of e-books — whether it’s the library’s or the publisher’s fault — is a major issue. Finding an e-book you want at the library is extremely difficult because there aren’t many titles, and of the ones that are available, there’s typically only one copy, forcing people to go on a waiting list sometimes for weeks. Not to mention, if a publisher offers its print books in the library, there’s no reason not to offer its digital copies. Overall, this study is not very surprising, but brings up good points.
What do you guys think?
As an avid e-book reader, I revel in the fact that I can read the word-for-word text of a paperback novel in a portable, electronic way. That’s the beauty of it, isn’t it? But what if the text of the novel you’re reading were not word-for-word the original?
That’s what happened to this person, who came across some manipulations when reading Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace. Turns out his Nook had been Nookd. When reading the classic novel on his Barnes and Noble Nook — the same e-reader that myself and millions of others use — he found the the word “Kindled” had been changed to “Nookd” every time it was used. The capitalization and odd/incorrect spelling makes it a dead giveaway that something unusual was going on. After checking an original print copy of the book to make sure he wasn’t losing his mind, he learned that it was in fact changed.
This raises an important question: how often are our books being manipulated by reading them on electronic devices? Was this just a one-off case? Was it a glitch? Or are publishers playing tricks on us and doing this far more often than we think? And was this a direct attack on Amazon’s Kindle?
According to Huffington Post, Superior Formatting Publishing, who formatted the novel for the Nook, admitted there was an error when converting the e-book version for the Kindle to the version for the Nook, as Britney Fitzgerald explains.
From Superior’s explanation:
This happened because all of our titles were originally published on the Amazon Kindle platform first, and the titles formerly had a small paragraph of text describing our works at the beginning of the book. This paragraph had the word Kindle in it several times. When Barnes and Noble released their publishing platform we were obviously excited to offer our books there as well. A Find and Replace was done on the introductory paragraph to replace the word Kindle with Nook (along with some other formatting modifications specific to the Nook editions). On this particular title there was obviously a mistake in which the process was carried out on the entire work, instead of just the intro text.
The error has since been fixed. This slightly hysterical, but mostly ludicrous mistake blows my mind. What do you guys think?
Could the Barnes and Noble Nook soon be getting a massive upgrade? That’s still up for debate, but it sure has gotten a huge financial boost, thanks to Microsoft.
According to the L.A. Times, Microsoft, which has stayed out of the e-reader business until now, is now giving Barnes and Noble $300 million for its new Nook-led subsidiary. As previously reported, the new branch of Barnes and Noble is something the company’s been considering for the past few months.
The subsidiary, which would act as an entirely separate Nook-led branch under B&N’s umbrella, has the temporary name Newco. Microsoft will get a 17.6 shares in the spinoff. As Carolyn Kellogg points out, however, it’s odd that Barnes and Noble chose Microsoft — of all companies — to help them out.
Microsoft’s investment was, at least by most in publishing, unexpected. Last we heard, Microsoft was suing Barnes & Noble over alleged patent infringements related to the Nook, which could have blocked importation to the U.S. after its offshore manufacture. As part of the new Nook deal, Microsoft and Barnes & Noble announced settlement of the patent suit.
Now that the two companies have kissed and made up, some are wondering what advancements could be made to the second-place e-reader — behind Amazon’s Kindle — with all that extra money.
So I ask you, fellow Nook users, what kind of improvements would you like to see? How do you think Microsoft could change the future of Barnes and Noble, if at all?