From Publishers Weekly:
During its annual meeting held Tuesday morning at its flagship store in New York City, Barnes & Noble chairman Len Riggio supported its new CEO, Demos Parneros who was named to his current role in April.
During the meeting, Riggio called Parneros “the perfect fit” to help the company grow its top line and improve profits. Observing that Parneros “has brought lots of energy to the company,” Riggio said he is looking forward to watching the executive over the next few years, noting that Parneros shares his vision and will revive B&N “store by store.”
. . . .
Riggio also assured shareholders that B&N is no longer in the tech business. While the Nook e-reader and e-books will remain a part of the company’s offerings to customers, bricks and mortar stores will be its focus. Riggio explained that when e-book sales began exploding several years ago, B&N felt it had no choice but to enter the digital market. In retrospect, Riggio said, B&N didn’t have the culture or financing to compete with the likes of Amazon and Google.
Instead, according to Riggio, B&N will focus on its physical stores and will partner with technology companies to keep a presence in the digital space. “There is no business model in technology” for B&N, Riggio acknowledged.
Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly and thanks to Nate at The Digital Reader for the tip.
PG says the Nook business was doomed from its earliest days. The big reasons are:
Riggio didn’t want to pay for top online talent.
This was evident from the first time PG visited the Nook Store. Poorly designed and poorly executed. And it never really changed.
Real tech talent is rare and in great demand. In the beginning, for the right money, skilled tech people would have gone to work at Nook, but Barnes & Noble wanted to pay bookstore salaries.
PG has no idea if Nook tried to hire really good talent at the right price after it became clear that the Nook Store was a disaster. Unfortunately, by that time, serious tech talent wouldn’t have come regardless of salary because nobody wants to clean up someone else’s mess and a line mentioning the Nook Store would have been deadly on the résumé.
Besides, nobody would have believed Barnes & Noble stock options would ever make them rich at that point.
The Nook Store set ebook prices at a level designed to support the print book prices in its stores.
One of PG’s least favorite things to hear during a product planning meeting is, “We don’t want to cannibalize our existing business.”
The problem is that, if your business is cannibalizable by you, it’s cannibalizable by somebody else. Jeff Bezos has always been a happy cannibal.
Low ebook prices combined with instant availability fueled Amazon’s early dominance. Over time, by cultivating successful indie authors, in part by using Kindle Unlimited, Amazon has added tens of thousands of high quality titles that Riggio couldn’t sell if he wanted to.
Amazon vs. Big Bookstores and Big Publishing is going to be a classic business case used in MBA programs around the world for decades to come. Brains and speed beat money and size once again.