Tag Archives: tablets

Nook Considers Spinoff, Stock Tumbles

Investors are on edge after Barnes and Noble announced last week it was considering spinning off its Nook business.

Nook has been a beacon of hope for the company, whose physical book sales are otherwise plummeting, much like Borders before it went under. But according to this article by The Street, Barnes and Noble officials are hoping that a spinoff would allow the Nook to expand further, both nationally and internationally. B&N CEO William Lynch explains.

“We see substantial value in what we’ve built with our Nook business in only two years, and we believe it’s the right time to investigate our options to unlock that value,” said CEO William Lynch. “In Nook, we’ve established one of the world’s best retail platforms for the sale of digital copyright content. We have a large and growing installed base of millions of satisfied customers buying digital content from us, and we have a Nook business that’s growing rapidly year-over-year and should be approximately $1.5 billion in comparable sales this fiscal year. Between continued projected growth in the U.S., and the opportunity for Nook internationally in the next 12 months, we expect the business to continue to scale rapidly for the foreseeable future.”

The company says there’s no guarantee that the Nook will branch off from B&N and won’t say anything further until a decision is made.

That being said, stocks plummeted when the news broke, which does not bode well should Barnes and Noble decide to spin off the Nook.

As far as  I’m concerned, the Nook will do well no matter where it sells or who owns it. But it’s a matter of how it will affect B&N. Should it spin off, B&N might suffer the same fate Borders did, and that would be a huge loss for readers everywhere.

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Listening to Your E-Reader

There are books. There are e-books. And there are audiobooks. But now, there are e-books with music.

Earlier this fall, a New York start-up called Booktrack began publishing e-books with music to enhance the e-book reading experience. According to this article by The New York Times, they decided to change the landscape of e-book reading by adding soundtracks to accompany them. Stories with a more “cinematic scope” were better-suited, and so far, those are the only ones that have gotten the musical treatment.

Though authors have experimented with musical books in the past — the article cites James Patterson, who has included CD’s to go along with his books — they haven’t been very successful. But Booktrack promises to give readers more control with the musical e-books, as Julie Bosman explains.

But Booktrack’s founders say that their product is an improvement on the old book soundtracks, partly because it plays at the pace of the individual reader and can be paused or adjusted with a touch of the screen.

Reading the Booktrack edition of “The Power of Six” on an iPad is much like reading the standard e-book edition, with the addition of a small indicator scrolling down the page, line by line. (The user sets the reading speed.)

The prices of e-books with music are a bit higher. After all, they have more to offer. Or do they? What do you guys think?

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Book Sales Soar During Holiday Season

This holiday season, there were two factors that had bookstore owners concerned: the popularity of e-books and a poor economy. Most expected abysmal sales of print books.

But according to this article by the New York Times, they were wrong. Book sales are up this year from last year. In most cases, stores have seen a 10-30% rise in sales, and that includes independent bookstores and Barnes and Noble.

The closing of Borders likely had something to do with it. Or as I like to think, maybe people are better appreciating physical books now that e-books are taking over. But while November and December sales are up, bookstore owners are concerned about what the dull post-holiday season will bring, as this one explains in the article.

Sales are up 15 percent from last year at Next Chapter Bookshop in Mequon, Wis., the store’s owner, Lanora Hurley, said, speculating that she may have been helped by the closing of a Borders store about seven miles away.

“We’re just going gangbusters and having a great time,” Ms. Hurley said, adding cautiously that she was concerned that it would not last. “I have to say, I’m worried about January. Everybody’s going to open their electronic device for Christmas.”

Hurley has a point. As much as people purchase books this year, they’re also purchasing e-readers. But I think this is all working toward a better future for the book industry. It certainly proves that the industry is alive and well. And apparently entering a new age.

It seems that this year’s holiday bestsellers aren’t fiction books. Nonfiction is leading the way with the Steve Jobs biography, memoirs by the likes of Diane Keaton and Gabrielle Giffords, and political books.

Of course, this is a somewhat natural holiday shopping spike. But could it also mean the Renaissance of the book?

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Amazon May Get Netflix-like Service for Books

Kindle e-books might now be available at libraries across the country, but the changes don’t stop there. A report by the Wall Street Journal says Amazon might be working on a new Netflix-like service for books.

The service would be part of the Amazon Prime package — a special program that gives members free two-day shipping and reduced price one-day shipping on all Amazon orders for a year, for a $79 annual fee.

The additional book service would allow Prime customers to read a limited number of books for free every month from a library of “older titles.”

According to this article by PC World, it seems Amazon hopes the service — which is still in its early stages — will help gain Prime members.

Perhaps spurred by the reaction to its Prime Instant unlimited video streaming, Amazon hopes to convince more people to join Prime with enticing add-ons. The company’s Prime library might also tie-in to the retailer’s strategy for its highly rumored, Android-based tablet to compete with the iPad.

Similar to Apple, Amazon’s slate could offer an integrated shopping experience with one-click access to online movie and TV viewing, e-book sales, MP3s, and apps. But Amazon would also want to encourage people to use their Amazon tablets to shop for physical items such as TVs, consoles and games, physical books, DVDs, computers, and toys.

Many of the details of this project are still unknown, however. For instance, how old are these “older titles”? And how many books will be available on a monthly basis? Not to mention, is this service even worth it now that libraries are offering Kindle e-books anyway? It sounds good on paper, but the kinks definitely still need to be ironed out. What do you guys think?

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Borders is a Bust

All sales are final. As of tomorrow, Borders Bookstore is officially a bust. The once-popular chain will begin closing its remaining 400 stores nationwide, not only emptying shelves, but eliminating 11,000 jobs as well.

This comes after months of bankruptcy and failed attempts to sell and resurrect itself. So where did Borders go wrong?

1. The obvious reason; we are entering the digital world of paperless-ness. In fact, we are already in it. As online [book] shopping, e-readers, and tablets become more popular, the desire to buy a physical book is null and void.

2. As this WSJ article explains, other products in the store were beginning to hide the books altogether. As we all know, bookstores aren’t really just bookstores anymore. They’re fully equipped entertainment outlets, selling CDs, DVDs, and magazines. But once you start shielding the core of the store behind other products, the focus becomes unclear, as Matthew Dolan explains in his article:

Customers began to notice what made Borders distinctive was also disappearing. In Store No. 1, there are still books galore. But to reach them, customers must navigate through aisles of toys, stuffed animals, greeting cards, gift bags, compact discs and DVDs.

3. Barnes and Noble is better. I’ve always been a B&N girl myself. It may be the Starbucks cafe in each store. It might be the layout and look of the store. There’s also a good chance it’s the growth the company has seen after taking on the Nook, which is far more popular than Borders’ Kobo. Either way, it’s the number one bookstore nationwide, and Borders just couldn’t top it.

Whatever the reason, it’s sad to see such a staple leave the industry and say goodbye to thousands of employees, as well. What I’m wondering is, is there something Borders could have done to improve and save itself? What do you think?

***Here is another WSJ article that explains more about the financial struggle of Borders.

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