Barnes & Noble’s Galaxy Tab 4 Nook Tablets Were a Holiday Flop

11 January 2015

From Android Headlines:

When it comes to a good story, the path of the Barnes & Noble e-reader, the Nook, has not been a happy one…though somewhat interesting.  The holiday season was not exactly a merry one as sales plummeted 55.4-percent compared to 2013’s holiday shopping period.  Hardware, accessories and digital content were all down for the season – device and accessories sales were down by 67.9-percent and digital content were down 25-percent.

It has been a real struggle for Barnes & Noble when it comes to Amazon’s Kindle e-readers, not to mention the Apple, Samsung and Google’s Nexus tablets on which anybody can read a book by downloading an app.

. . . .

Why Barnes & Noble’s sales were down could be due to a number of things – did the Galaxy Tab 4 Nook make it too easy for purchasers to read books via other readers on the same tablet.  Were the sales of Android tablets down overall this holiday season?  Without exact sales figures for their entire line, it might be that the Galaxy Tab 4 Nook sold the expected amount, but their other e-ink reader, the Nook Glowlight – with no update during 2014 – could not hold off the upgraded and lower priced line of Amazon’s Kindles.

Link to the rest at Android Headlines

Nook Results Could Jeopardize Barnes & Noble Split-Up Plan

9 January 2015

From The Wall Street Journal:

Barnes & Noble Inc. ’s consumer stores enjoyed an upbeat holiday period, but poor results at the Nook digital business potentially complicate plans to split that division off into a separate public company with the college bookstore group.

Nook revenue, which consists of digital devices, e-books and accessories, fell 55% to $56 million for the nine weeks ended Jan. 3, compared with the same period a year ago. Device and accessories sales sank 68% to $28.5 million, while digital content sales declined 25% to $27.4 million.

The downbeat results could make it difficult for Barnes & Noble to complete the Nook separation, planned by the end of August, some analysts said, because it will be hard to convince investors the business has a future.

The decline in digital content sales suggested Nook owners were “abandoning” the Nook e-bookstore, said James McQuivey, an analyst with Forrester Research. “Otherwise, you’d have seen stabilizing digital content sales,” he said.

. . . .

John Tinker, an analyst with the Maxim Group, said the Nook losses are so bad that Barnes & Noble may not be able to move forward with the split. Selling off the Nook business to a third party buyer, he said, could be equally challenging.

“There is still value but it’s a lot harder now with these numbers,” he said.

. . . .

Mitchell Klipper, chief executive of the Barnes & Noble retail group, said the results showed that “people are coming back to physical books and want to be in bookstores. Traffic is moving in the right direction.” Mr. Klipper cited gifts and educational toys and games as two particularly strong categories.

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal (Link may expire)

Barnes & Noble Buys Back Nook Stake From Pearson

30 December 2014

From The New York Times:

Barnes & Noble said on Tuesday that it had reached an agreementto buy back Pearson’s stake in the booksellers’s struggling e-book business, Nook Media, for nearly $28 million.

The company said that it would pay $13.75 million in cash and 602,927 shares of Barnes & Noble’s common stock. The move follows an exit by Microsoft from Nook earlier this month. Barnes & Noble bought out the software giant’s stake for about $120 million.

. . . .

 The company is planning to split into companies, one with Nook and its college bookstores and another consisting of the retail stores and website, by the end of August.

Link to the rest at The New York Times

Small businesses facing ‘bullying’ by corporate customers

17 December 2014

From The Guardian:

Small businesses are being pushed to breaking point by bullying corporate customers making immoral payment demands, a lobby group has said.

About one in five small companies surveyed by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) said they had suffered some form of supply-chain bullying in the past two years.

. . . .

The latest big name company to be drawn into the spotlight was WH Smith, after the retailer withdrew After the Battle magazine from its shelves following the publication’s refusal to pay a £2,000 “promotional fee”.

The magazine, which has a circulation of 11,000, was told the fee would rise next year and the year after. Winston Ramsey, editor-in-chief of the history publication, said that as a large retailer, WH Smith already received a 40% to 50% discount on the cover price and was provided with the magazines on a sale or return basis.

He said agreeing to the additional fee would only increase the cost of the magazine and add to WH Smith’s profits while being “grossly unfair” to independent newsagents that supported the publication.

“I won’t cave in to what is almost blackmail,” he said.

The magazine’s readers have taken to social media to criticise WH Smith’s actions and Ramsey said he had been touched by their support. “People don’t like to see these big monopolies bearing down on small companies.”

Link to the rest at The Guardian and thanks to Russell for the tip.

The book is back … and here’s the man leading the revival

15 December 2014

From the Guardian:

James Daunt is a bookseller with a penchant for stories (Anna Karenina is one of his favourites), who is also an inveterate risk taker. In 2011, he watched a Russian oligarch named Alexander Mamut make an insane bid for commercial suicide. And then he volunteered to join him.

Mamut’s crazy venture (“Nobody invests in bookshops to make money,” says Daunt) was his bid for Waterstones, then an ailing chain, burdened with several million pounds of debt. Daunt’s reckless career move was to join Mamut as his CEO, a job widely seen as a poisoned chalice. Many Waterstones-watchers predicted various dire scenarios.

Sometimes, however, stories have happy endings. And this month, Daunt was able to announce that, finally, Waterstones is about to break even.

The news that, for the first time in a long time, Waterstones is beginning to show signs of modest growth (new shops; new optimism; new markets) is symbolic of a sea-change in the world of books. Whisper it discreetly, but the book is showing signs of making a modest comeback, with British bookselling exhibiting the symptoms of an unfamiliar, fragile optimism.

During the first decade of the new century, this sector cornered the market in gloomy predictions that the end of the world was nigh. The digital revolution, plus Amazon, plus the credit crunch, seemed to add up to a literary apocalypse. There were moments, some CEOs in book publishing now concede, when they could hardly see a commercial way forward. A mood of panic quickly spread, with many dire predictions.

. . . .

To demonstrate the resilience of the traditional book in the midst of a changing market, Daunt took the Observer on a tour of his latest shop opening, Waterstones/Hatchards in St Pancras Station, London. “What we have to do,” he says, “is adapt to new market conditions. It’s no longer enough just to stock a lot of new titles.”

Bookselling today is about bright lighting, friendly staff, cleverly designed bookcases that display new hardbacks – yes, hardbacks – to best advantage, an espresso coffee machine behind the checkout counter and finally – how can we put this ? – many unbookish things such as novelty items, jigsaws, games, children’s toys, Paddington bears, greetings cards and upmarket stationery.

“We’ve been through a fairly tumultuous period,” says Daunt, “but it does seem to be settling at last.” At times, he has seemed to be fighting a war on three fronts: the global recession; the surge in e-reading; and the threat of online selling (Amazon). “Occasionally,” he says, “we thought that people were in flight from the physical book. But now I think the book is back.”

. . . .

Daunt’s “stabilisation” programme has involved fundamentally rethinking Waterstones. Gone, for instance, is the old tyranny of central buying, the process whereby Bath, Bolton and Blackpool would be instructed by head office which books to order. “We used to be top-down,” says Daunt. “Now it’s all about what’s right for the individual shop and its local market.” Lately, in Waterstones redux, bookshops and their managers have become much more autonomous – independent states within a federal system.

And then there’s the new Waterstones vibe. The chain still has 287 outlets (roughly the same as when Daunt took over) but they have been comprehensively revamped. They are brighter, lighter, and more welcoming. “We are now selling a lot of things that are not books,” says Daunt.

This is not the end of civilisation, but a sign of the times. Reading habits are changing worldwide. The consumer’s use of leisure time is no longer dominated by book-reading. That, says Daunt, means “we have to rethink what a good bookshop should be”.

Link to the rest at the Guardian and thanks to Nick for the tip.

Taking a cue from nightclubs, 24-hour bookstores boom in Taiwan

11 December 2014

From The Christian Science Monitor:

Is a 24-hour “nightclub for books,” where hipsters and bookworms alike hang out all night reading and chatting, the solution to the woes of the modern bookstore?

The Eslite Group, which owns an enterprising chain of bookstores inTaiwan and Hong Kong, thinks so. While bookstores in countries across the world struggle to survive, business at the Taiwanese book chain is booming, and observers credit the chain’s unusual model.

The Eslite bookstore is open 24 hours “and has more night owl visitors than most Western bookstores could dream of during their daytime hours,” writes CNN.

. . . .

The secret? The bookstore is as much about books as it is about design, food, and culture, making it an attractive hangout for customers of all stripes.

“It’s a cool place, a bit like Soho in New York,” Huang Yu Han, a customer at the Taipei store told CNN. “Many cool people hang out here. Some come here to read, others just to kill time and meet friends. It’s like a place for modern culture and it’s close to some of the best nightclubs and bars.”

. . . .

“It is our belief that the more digital the society [becomes], the more we treasure the warmth of the interconnection,” company spokesman Timothy Wang told CNN. “This core idea makes Eslite barely impacted by the changes of the industry.”

Link to the rest at The Christian Science Monitor and thanks to Dave for the tip.

Barnes & Noble would not negotiate

9 December 2014

From the DeKalb Daily Chronicle:

When dozens of residents called William Staebler in the past week to complain about Barnes & Noble closing, he told them there was nothing he could do.

 Staebler is the director of real estate development for Mid-America Management, the company that owns the building Barnes & Noble has rented for more than a decade.

The national book retailer will close Dec. 31 because Barnes & Noble made an offer on a new lease and refused to negotiate with Mid-America, Staebler said.

. . . .

Staebler said Barnes & Noble representatives have rejected lease offers his company made during the past year that would have reduced the store’s rent for the 21,000 square-foot space at 2439 Sycamore Road.

“People ask me why I’m evicting Barnes & Noble,” Staebler said. “But I’m not closing the store. I’m not laying people off their jobs. It’s[Barnes & Noble’s] decision.”

. . . .

Staebler said he would rather keep Barnes & Noble than undergo the costly process of securing a new tenant.

Link to the rest at DeKalb Daily Chronicle

PG has a Google Alert that informs him about Barnes & Noble store closings. He’s not sure whether to call it a steady stream or a constant drip-drip-drip, but stores are closing on a regular basis. There’s definitely a trend to terminate leases after the holiday sales season this year.

Getting books more retail shelf space is going to require a new approach

5 December 2014

From veteran publishing consultant Mike Shatzkin:

That bookstore shelf space is disappearing is a reality that nobody denies. It makes sense that there are people trying to figure out how to arrest the decline. There has been some recent cheerleading about the “growth” of indie bookstores, but the hard reality is that they’re expanding shelf space more slowly than chains are shrinking it. No publisher today can make a living selling books just through brick-and-mortar bookstores. For straight text reading, it is rapidly becoming an ancillary channel, a special market. Illustrated book publishers, whose books don’t port so well to ebooks and whose printed books are more likely to be bought if they are seen and touched, are working “special” sales — those not made through outlets that primarily sell books — harder than ever. That means they’re trying to put books into retail stores that aren’t primarily bookstores.

. . . .

One big component of the problem, in a nutshell, is that most books don’t sell enough copies to have a “sales rate” in any one store. Consider a little quick retail math. A store that does $1.2 million in sales a year ($100,000 a month) is selling 5 to 10 thousand books a month. Call it eight thousand. The chances are that store’s eight thousand sales will be more than 7,500 “ones”, with the balance made up mostly of “twos”, with a handful of titles — in the neighborhood of a dozen — that sell three or more. If the store turns its stock 4 times a year (which would be a very good performance), it is sitting on about 25,000 books at a time, also mostly “ones”, so let’s say they have 22,000 titles. So in the average month, 2/3 of their titles sell zero and more than 90 percent sell no more than one.

In the following month, the 7,500 titles that sell one will largely change.

There is no mathematician in the world that can make meaningful predictions for what any particular title will sell in a subsequent month with data like that. And there is no mathematician in the world that can tell you how the hundreds of thousands of titles not in the store would have done if they had been there, based on the store’s data on those titles (which is zilch).

. . . .

And that points to the second, and larger, component of the problem: automating the ordering. The human attention it takes to make the stocking decisions for a bookstore has not really been scaled. B. Dalton Booksellers, which was bought by, absorbed into, and then discarded by Barnes & Noble, pioneered automated models in the 1970s, the first real computer-assisted inventory management in bookstores. A buyer would set an inventory level and reorder point for a book in a store (“setting the model” or “modeling the title”) and the computer would take over from there, automatically reordering when inventory fell to or below the reorder point. This capability made Dalton grow faster than Walden, its chief competitor, which didn’t have this ability to keep backlist in the stores without buyer or store manager intervention. The shortcoming of the model system, of course, is that a buyer has to put it on, take it off, or change it. So we have a manual requirement to manage the automation.

. . . .

Unfortunately, the art or science or technology (or all three) of inventory management for books in stores hasn’t progressed a whole lot since then. Barnes & Noble built a great internal supply chain with warehouses that could resupply its stores very quickly and that improved the efficiency of the models. But an unnoticed and uncommented upon current reality is that internal supply chain will be hard to sustain and increasingly costly as the base of stores and sales it serves diminishes in size.

Link to the rest at The Shatzkin Files and thanks to Dave for the tip.

Barnes & Noble, Microsoft End Nook Pact

4 December 2014

From The Wall Street Journal:

Barnes & Noble Inc. said it has terminated its commercial agreement for its Nook e-reader with Microsoft Corp. , a move it said provides a clearer path toward the impending split of its business.

The bookstore retailer bought out Microsoft’s preferred interest in Nook for about $120 million in cash and stock, freeing Microsoft from further investments in the business.

Barnes & Noble, struggling to adapt as book buyers migrated to online retailers like Inc., said Thursday that it expects the planned split of its Nook Media unit from its retail stores to occur by the end of August, behind its initial projection for a separation by March.

The company also reported a much weaker-than-expected profit for its November quarter, helping push its shares down about 8% premarket.

Microsoft invested in Nook in 2012, pledging more than $600 million to help prop up Barnes & Noble’s digital-reading business.

. . . .

For its second quarter ended Nov. 1, the Nook segment’s revenue fell 41% to $63.9 million, while digital content sales fell 21% to $45.2 million. Device sales fell 64% from a year earlier, though cost-cutting helped stem the division’s loss in the quarter.

Sales at the company’s retail unit, meanwhile, fell 3.6% in the quarter, due partly to store closures.

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal (Link may expire)

Obama Buys 17 Titles At Independent Bookstore

30 November 2014

From The Huffington Post:

President Barack Obama tried to draw attention to independently owned businesses on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, a day that is increasingly being marketed as one for deal-hungry consumers to remember to patronize these mom-and-pop outlets while doing their holiday shopping.

He bought bags of books — 17 titles in all — during a stop at Politics and Prose, a popular Washington bookstore now owned by a former Washington Post reporter and his wife, also a former Post reporter who also worked for Hillary Rodham Clinton at the White House and State Department.

In recent years, the Saturday after Thanksgiving has been advertised as “Small Business Saturday.” It’s designed to drive foot traffic to independent businesses in between the frenzy of Black Friday sales at mass retailers and the Cyber Monday deals available online.

. . . .

Among the books in the president’s shopping bags for mature readers were “Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth and Faith in the New China” by New Yorker writer Evan Osnos, “Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End” by surgeon Atul Gawande and “All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr.

For younger readers, Obama’s purchases included three titles in the “Redwall” series by Brian Jacques, two titles in the Junie B. Jones series by Barbara Park and “A Barnyard Collection: Click, Clack, Moo and More” by Doreen Cronin.

Link to the rest at The Huffington Post and thanks to Dave for the tip.

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