Home » PG's Thoughts (such as they are), Tablets/Ereaders » Nook Glowlight Plus Quietly Went Out of Stock on B&N’s Website

Nook Glowlight Plus Quietly Went Out of Stock on B&N’s Website

30 October 2017

From The Digital Reader

Barnes & Noble is no longer selling new Nook Glowlight Plus ereaders on their website. They’ve run out, and are now only selling refurbished units.

B&N is of course selling that malware-infested budget Android tablet and Samsung tablets under the Nook brand,  but if you click on the link for the Nook Glowlight Plus you will be sent to a page for refurbished Nooks instead of new ones.

. . . .

No one really knows what B&N is doing, and that includes B&N.

Link to the rest at The Digital Reader

PG notes that this development correlates with reports from traditional publishing that ebook sales are down. Regular visitors to TPV will understand that ebook sales are actually doing quite well because most ebook sales happen on Amazon and, thanks to Author Earnings, we know most Amazon ebook sales are from books written by indie authors.

He suggests Barnes & Noble and Big Publishing are admitting that Amazon has won the future of books. “Screen fatigue” and other imaginary sources of relief for the dead tree side of publishing will not save them.

Will Randy Penguin and its buddies disappear?

Sort of.

Big Publishing is sitting on a mother lode of intellectual property in the form of publishing contracts for a lot of evergreen books. The expensive part of its business is the people side associated with new product development and launches – people who talk to agents, read and edit manuscripts, pitch stories about books and authors to the New York Times, make sales calls on Barnes & Noble book buyers, etc.

PG suggests that a good argument can be made that spending money on this part of the business is a bad business decision. It’s also an area with a lot of risk. Offering an author an advance is rolling the dice. Most new books are money-losers and, as mentioned, most of the people expenses of a traditional publisher fall into the new book part of the business. Get rid of that function and related expenses and you’re well on your way to transforming a publisher into a lean, money-making operation.

Printing paper books happens in low-wage locations overseas. Warehousing and distribution of paper books is outsourced to Ingram and Baker & Taylor, although PG suggests there may be profit opportunities in seeking lower-cost warehousing/shipping service providers.

Is there really anything about receiving, storing and shipping a box of books that’s different from doing the same thing with a box of laundry detergent?

For paper books, Ingram is providing a service that is available elsewhere. Any number of companies offer highly-sophisticated outsourced logistics services and supply chain management, including processing orders, forecasting demand, distribution, fulfillment and returns on a far larger scale than Ingram does. There’s another solution to dealing with the whole paper book challenge that PG discusses below.

Let’s get back to the mother lode of intellectual property. The mother lode has been created by standard publishing contracts under which authors grant their publishers exclusive rights to their books, including movie, tv, etc., rights, for the full term of the author’s copyright. In most western countries, a copyright lasts for the remainder of the author’s life plus several decades more – 70 years, 50 years, etc.

PG suggests that if a traditional publisher is downsized to a handful of managers, a couple of accountants, someone to keep the accounting/royalty system running on Amazon Web Services and an outside law firm, it could be a long-term money machine.

For contractual purposes, a lite publisher would have to keep print books available for sale (to avoid the exercise of out-of-print clauses), but Amazon could handle that. If all paper books are sold via Amazon, you can eliminate the Ingram costs and the overhead associated with taking orders for books from traditional bookstores would go away. If you’re looking to maximize profits from your intellectual property, you don’t want to spend money dealing with small orders from mom and pop shops.

The real money is in sending ebook files to Amazon, etc., and specifying a direct deposit banking institution to receive the cash that comes in each month. That’s how your really run a lean publisher as a money machine.

As with all aging assets, the income from sales of existing books would decline over time, but with large catalog of books and somebody to answer phone calls for random movie and tv rights deals that come in over the transom, operating a traditional publisher in this manner could yield extremely high profit margins for a very long time.

But what does PG know?

PG's Thoughts (such as they are), Tablets/Ereaders

8 Comments to “Nook Glowlight Plus Quietly Went Out of Stock on B&N’s Website”

  1. No one really knows what B&N is doing, and that includes
    B&N.

    So very true. I just searched for my latest release on BN and when I typed in Large Print, it didn’t find it. How on earth do people find books on BN?

    Oh, that’s right, they go to Amazon instead.

  2. And let’s not forget the time-critical monkey wrench that can be thrown into those multidecade contracts: Termination under § 203 (for contracts signed on or after 01 Jan 1978) or § 304(c) (for works published prior to 01 Jan 1978) (and yes, there is a disjuncture in there). This allows authors — well, certain authors — well, certain authors under certain circumstances established by one of the most convoluted sections of the Copyright Act (most of § 203 and § 304(c) are identical) — who follow certain insanely overspecific procedures at the right time to terminate the original publishing contract. But not later publishing contracts, let alone for derivative works.

    Presuming, of course, that the publisher doesn’t sue for declaratory judgment claiming that the procedures (for which there is supposed to be definitive and clear guidance from the Copyright Office, but what guidance there is is neither definitive nor clear 40 years after the effective date of the Act) actually used were somehow flawed or were mooted by a later contract modification.

    And, of course, presuming that the work has earned back its advance (or that recoupment is prohibited and there’s no basket accounting with other works) and/or that the publisher’s contribution to the work isn’t itself independently copyrightable and/or any of a variety of other roadblocks.

  3. That is too bad. Nook has been really consistently strong for me this year, and I think the platform still has potential. It is regrettable that no one acquired Nook and put it to better use. (Though it is probably just as well that Microsoft didn’t wind up buying the Nook, given what happened to Nokia.)

    • Given that Nook is essentially “Barnes & Noble eBooks”, how, really, could somebody acquire it?

  4. PG,

    Your analysis, beginning with:

    … if a traditional publisher is downsized to a handful of managers, a couple of accountants, someone to keep the accounting/royalty system running on Amazon Web Services and an outside law firm, it could be a long-term money machine.

    …is brilliant.

    🙂

  5. I recall thinking exactly what PG said in his comment. If I was a corporate raider, I’d acquire it, sack everyone, move operations to the midwest and proceed to exploit the backlist. New covers, proper marketing. Maybe explore options for cost-effective acquisition of new work.

    And that shouldn’t be scary to anyone whose IP is tied up. They would probably end up making more money, because their work is the focus of the business instead of a write-down. Might even help them career-wise, if they are still writing new works.

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