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Will Barnes and Noble Go the Way of the Dodo?

Have you seen the recent news about the state of Barnes and Noble? It's not good. Check out the ePublishing News feed for the full articles. 

In a July 2, 2013 blog Forbes contributor Barbara Thau asks the musical question, "Will Barnes and Noble be around in five years?" In spite of the 43% growth in eBook sales in the last year, B&N hasn't benefitted and is taking a "strategic" look at its operations. In June, the company announced it would stop producing the Nook color tablet and concentrate on providing content for other devices. Bad decisions initially limiting the capabilities of the Nook tablet (since rectified, but maybe too late), kept it from taking off to rival the Kindle Fire or iPad.

The bad news continues in the physical stores. One advantage B&N honchos believed they had over Amazon in the eReader market was that Nook users would have a place to go for in person help and service. Yet, according to Thau, B&N expects in store sales to decline further in 2013, so those Nook users aren't showing up in the stores, apparently. Still B&N officials claim that the eBook sales will slow, the "physical book decline" will "flatten," and B&N will be benefit.

Kinda sounds like wishful thinking to me. 

Nobody believes physical books will go away. Many readers want to hold the book, flip though it, sniff it, even, before they buy. These readers need a physical bookstore. I truly hope B&N gets its act together. Is there a better place in all the world for a bibliophile to spend an afternoon than a B&N store, surrounded by books, Starbucks readily available? It would be a bad thing if B&N went away, just as it was bad when B&N bought Fictionwise and essentially killed it. It's always bad when there are fewer choices for the consumer or the content provider, ultimately the author. 

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