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Posts Tagged ‘barnes & noble’

The writing on the wall for: Booksellers, libraries, newspapers?

May 21, 2010 Leave a comment

1. Finally, somebody does the math. According to the Wall Street Journal, under the new pricing model for e-books “championed” by Apple when it released the iPad, in which digital booksellers receive 30 percent of an e-book’s price, the booksellers get rid of their loss leaders. However, the fact remains that 30 percent of $12.99 is $3.90. So, the WSJ article says:

But for Barnes & Noble, the model can’t hide a brutal reality: $3.90 is a fraction of the $12.50 it now earns on a full-priced hardcover priced at $25.

Now I’m no math whiz, but as more people embrace e-reading, the $3.90s will never catch up to the $12.50s. It’s imperative that the book superstore find a new business model, and quickly. Books won’t join VHS tapes anytime soon, but obsolescence has its way of creeping up on you. Better to be prepared.

2. Speaking of books, here’s an interesting article from the Mercury News about Stanford’s foray into “the bookless library.” Stanford is conducting the experiment with its physics and engineering libraries first. Its reasons: It’s running out of room for physical books, and the availability of technical information online.

3. And now, for newspapers. The Atlantic’s How to Save the News is a fascinating, in-depth look at the newspaper industry’s troubles, Google’s role in all of it, and what can be done to fight the fact that print newspaper ads still pay the bills (sort of) while online ad prices have yet to catch up. The article’s overall tone: Online’s the future; publishers need to keep trying new ideas to make money; and information won’t be free forever. Apparently, Google executives think it’s inevitable that people will start paying for information. For the newspaper industry’s sake, I hope the brilliant minds at Google are correct. But I doubt most consumers hope the same thing.

At Barnes & Noble, the future is now

March 20, 2010 Leave a comment

Keeping up with the e-reading industry is really cutting into my writing time. But the business and tech geek/reader in me is just fascinated by all the twists and turns in the epic that is digital books. The latest news — the shakeup at Barnes & Noble — is notable because William Lynch, the company’s dot-com president, is now the struggling bookseller’s CEO.

It’s like a metaphor for the cultural shift that is happening with books and the transition to e-reading. Out with the old, in with the new. Lynch’s experience is in online commerce: Before he joined B&N last year, he was at HSN, founded gifts.com, worked at Palm. At 39, he’s relatively young. A quote in the Wall Street Journal by B&N Chairman Leonard Riggio  — brother of the 55-year-old CEO being replaced by Lynch — speaks volumes:

We need someone who has a vision of the new space, somebody who can recruit great people in technology. We have to be more than a retail bookseller.

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The plot thickens: Barnes & Noble preparing e-reader for iPad

March 12, 2010 Leave a comment

Barnes & Noble, which already has e-reader apps for various platforms, including the iPhone, announced on its blog yesterday that it is preparing to roll out an app designed for the forthcoming iPad. On the surface, this might seem counterintuitive. Could the bookseller be surrendering, and acknowledging that Nook, its own e-reader, isn’t doing too well?

But here’s why it makes a lot of sense: Like the rest of us, B&N has heard and seen and felt the hype. Apple’s iPad is coming — the day before Easter! — and despite its apparent shortcomings, people are going to buy it. And B&N could crawl under a hole with a Nook and pretend the iPad doesn’t exist, or it could sell books on the thing and make money. In the nascent e-reader world, it’s probably smart not to put all your books in one basket — unless you were there first, like Amazon, or you have a cult-like following, like Apple.

What remains to be seen is whether notoriously prickly Apple will like the idea of a competitor making it easy for iPad users to choose where they buy their e-books. Just ask Palm: When the Palm Pre first rolled out with the ability to download songs from iTunes, Apple updated iTunes so it couldn’t sync with the Pre. When Pre engineers fixed the “bug,” Apple blocked it again. And again. It’s entirely possible Apple won’t play nice with Barnes & Noble and its e-reader app for the iPad.

E-readers, chapter 2

January 29, 2010 Leave a comment

A few points to follow up on after the release of the iPad:

  • Where does the Nook, Barnes & Noble’s new e-reader, fit into the iPad vs. Kindle fight? The Nook came out late last year, but few people got their hands on one because of shipping delays. Many people who ordered didn’t get them in time for the holidays. In fact, from what I can tell, some customers probably didn’t get their Nooks till a couple of weeks ago. That’s not enough time for the Nook to gain traction, although with B&N’s huge library of titles — and the fact that people are supposed to be able to try them out at the bookstores (I intend to) — it could. Early reviews seemed mostly favorable, with the Nook scoring some points over the Kindle, but many reviewers still give Amazon’s device an edge. Now the iPad is likely to take some potential Nook buyers away.

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