Thursday, January 5, 2012

B&N is in Ebook Hell

In case you forgot that things were not going well in the print publishing industry, on the heels of bookseller Borders' bankruptcy earlier this year,

Barnes & Noble Inc. said it [is] exploring a plan to separate its successful but costly Nook electronic-book business as it warned investors that full-year results would show much more red ink than previously forecast.
Shares sank nearly 24% in Thursday morning trading.
"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," Chief Executive William Lynch said.
The company said its warning of a larger full-year loss resulted "primarily" from a "shortfall in the expected sales of Nook Simple Touch" as well as additional investments to expand the Nook business such as advertising support.

John Kell, WSJ [note: content of article was updated after this posting]

Here's the problem with separating the two businesses: the online Nook experience is still terrible. It is nearly impossible to find new books on the Nook website. Most friends that own Nooks use Amazon's website for their browsing, and the B&N site for their actual purchasing. B&N has only been able to drive sales of Nook readers because they are using their massive cross-country store infrastructure to sell Nooks to their brick and mortar customer base. How can they hope to push Nooks if they are not in stores?

And Nook's online marketing is anemic too. I cannot go anywhere on the internet without running into an Amazon or Apple product. I haven't seen a new Nook advert in ages.

So, if the online shopping experience is bad, if people only normally come across the Nook while shopping at B&N retail stores, and if they have no clear source of capital to save either of these two "new" companies, how the heck is B&N going to be able to enhance their share of the e-book market?

That explains the plummeting B&N share price.

And if you didn't hear,

On Wednesday, The Wall Street Journal reported that Barnes & Noble has put its Sterling Publishing business up for sale, signaling a likely end to its decades-long involvement in the publishing of its own books.

The questions I'm asking myself:
  1. Where the heck am I going to buy print books next year?
  2. Will publishers face another inventory return nightmare like during the Borders collapse...and can they all weather it?
  3. What is Apple's next move? (There are already plenty of rumors.)
  4. And what am I going to do with my Nook Color, turn it into a picture frame?


Six Little Lambs said...

I am a big fan of your books, have been since they came out. What I was thinking, now this is ambitous (so is med school while writing a couple of books.) I don't know if you know of Pat Rothfuss's worldbuilder drive he does ever winter. He auctions rare books, signed books and cool random things to help heifer international. I think you need to do a limited hardcover print edition of your first book with like 500 or 1000 and donate some to this cause. I also would like to have a couple of copies for myself! Either way I am sure they would sell and help pay your loans! Good luck in the future love your books!

P.S. Go with Amazon and Apple, Apple is going to help you self publish in a few months. B&N while I love it, is going out of business. They waited too long and made it too hard to enjoy their products.

B. Justin Shier said...

That's a cool idea...

Me: Hun, what do you think about releasing Zero Sight, The Anthropodermic Edition? It's for a good cause.

Wife: No.

Me: What about Zero Sight, The Psychedelic Hemp Edition?

Wife: No.

Me: Curses!!!

All joking aside, I like the idea. Amazon actually has a publishing arm. I wonder if they would be interested in doing some charity offerings like that.


Anonymous said...

Hm, if B&N ends up going out of business, at least kobo will be left for us epub fans. And smashwords. And the latter has a self-publishing arm, while the former has one in development I believe.

As for the nook color, I'd suggest just porting android to it. :) You can still read your books via the kindle and/or nook apps, or 3rd party readers if you have removed the DRM.

Trevor said...

You should try and get in touch with Pat himself, he updates his blog every few days with new additions to the possible winning pool. (Every 10 dollars donated creates another chance to win). Might be a good way to donate to a good cause, and get a bit of advertising in as well.

B. Justin Shier said...

@Anon: True. And apple is about to announce something big at the end of this month. The rumor mills are bouncing between a new way to view textbooks to a Kindle-Direct-Publishing-esk store with deals for exclusive content.

@Trevor: One does not simply call up Pat Rothfuss. Have you seen the size of that man's beard!? ;P Na, I really admire the system he has set up. It would be nice to give back like that.


Anonymous said...

I havent bought a book in print since i got my kindle. Before though i just went to amazon, quick, easy, and cheap.

I do plan on buying the last WoT book, but even walmart and target will have that book. I have all the others of the series in print and it would drive me mad not to complete it.

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