Nook

B&N nukes the NOOK with a 15 March deadline for customers to save content

10 March 2016

From diginomica:

While we remain committed to providing a great digital reading experience to our customers, we are exploring all opportunities to reduce costs.

That’s the sound of Barnes and Noble CEO Ron Boire sounding the retreat from the firm’s ill-advised venture into competing with Amazon’s Kindle with its own NOOK e-reader.

While his comments are simply reflective of an ongoing shift away by the firm from its digital disappointment, what is interesting is how many actions are now being taken to achieve this. Boire states bluntly:

Our first priority is to significantly improve NOOK performance. During the third quarter, we reduced NOOK expenses by $25 million and recently took additional action to exit NOOK’s app and video businesses that will result in additional cost savings…we are actively engaged in exploring a number of alternatives to materially reduce NOOK’s expense structure.

It’s easy to see why this is the case. While the third quarter saw B&N turn in increased profits of $80.3 million, up from $72.2 million year-on-year, total sales fell 1.8% to $1.41 billion, attributable in large part to poor online sales offsetting decent offline activity in-store.

. . . .

So action is required – and it’s starting to kick in soon. B&N customers need to get used to some big changes coming up next week – 15 March to be precise. That’s when the firm will no longer offer third party applications from the Nook Store. That’s a decision fuelled by the success of Google’s Play Store which runs on B&N devices and has been inevitably far more successful.

This decision impacts every tablet B&N has ever made, but the company insists that all existing Apps previously downloaded from the NOOK Store will remain in customers Nook Library and will continue to be accessible on compatible Nook devices.

From 15 March, customers will also not be able to rent or purchase video content from the NOOK video store, which will be closed down completely on 30 April. If customers want to keep the content they’ve already purchased, the need to transfer content to other providers.

If you’ve bought Disney, Pixar, Marvel or Star Wars content, you need to open an account with Disney Movies Anywhere, while all other content will now require the opening of a CinemaNow account.  If you haven’t done so by 30 April, you lose the content you’ve purchased.

. . . .

For all this, Boire insists that online remains a core part of the company’s ongoing strategy:

BN.com,represents a big opportunity for us and is a very important component of our omni-channel offering. While we are encouraged the site’s improved performance during the third quarter, we still have work to do to improve sales.

We have undertaken major projects to improve the user experience, including a re-design of the front-end, improving SEO by re-engineering certain elements of the site, and improving BN.com’s search tool so that it’s more relevant and intuitive to the customer’s query.

Link to the rest at diginomica and thanks to Barb for the tip.

The Nook’s Weird Death-March

8 March 2016

From author Gene Doucette:

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but Barnes & Noble has become that relative we all talk about as if they’re already dead, even when they’re right in the room with us, and they don’t even mind because at least we’re talking about them.

I say this knowing all too well that people have been eulogizing this former titan of retail for years and yet the company is still around.  That doesn’t mean the eulogies have been incorrect; it’s just taking longer than expected.  Like Radio Shack, which you probably think has been out of business for five or six years now but only filed for bankruptcy in 2015 and probably still have some stores out there somewhere.

Here are the latest tell-tale signs of the inevitable doom of B&N, and specifically (for my particular corner of the world) the NOOK: last week, in rapid succession, the company sent out notices that they would no longer be selling books in the recently opened NOOK UK store; and they would no longer be supporting third party apps on the NOOK reader.  Both of these changes (and if you didn’t know there was a NOOK UK store, well, that’s part of their problem, isn’t it?) would be official as of March 15, 2016, which was only twelve days from the date on the notices.  This was in the shadow of their announcement of losses in the fourth quarter of 2015, which came earlier the same week (reported optimistically as losses that might be ‘leveling off’ by the estimable New York Times, who have been hopefully predicting the resurgence of B&N for so long now it’s becoming embarrassing.)

If you owned a business and an employee gave you less than two week’s notice right after they mentioned financial troubles, you’d probably think something had gone terribly wrong in that employee’s life.  I appreciate that with B&N they’re trying to consolidate in order to reduce cost, but this already comes after they tried to sell NOOK outright to Microsoft, and Microsoft took a good look and backed out.  And on the list of companies I expect to make fiscally sane decisions, Microsoft isn’t really near the top.

. . . .

I quite inadvertently learned a lot about how things were going at B&N NOOK when I ran a book promotion in December.  This was a BookBub promotion (follow the link if you don’t know them; they’re great) where I marked down an anthology to $0.99 for two days.

With NOOK, I had to mark down the book myself, and I had to do it about four days ahead of time to make sure it was at the discount price when it was supposed to be, because—according to the email I received from support a mere 24 hours after asking—a price change could take that long to show up on the site.  I don’t know this for sure, but I think the reason is, the one guy there who does the changes might be away for the weekend.  I’m not being entirely sarcastic.  I think if you put in a change at Nook, a human being has to input the change.  Really.

. . . .

So that was the first thing.  The second was what happened the day of the sale.

As you might imagine, total-books-sold on a given day impacts a book’s public rank.  For instance, The Immortal Chronicles anthology, on the day of the BookBub promo, climbed up to the top 50 overall on Amazon thanks to over 1400 sales in less than 24 hours.  Meanwhile, over on the Nook, the anthology sold a little over 200 copies in the same period, which was enough to get it into the top 10.

Even taking into account that the two sites may calculated best-seller rank differently, go ahead and read those totals again and then ask yourself how many ebooks Barnes & Noble could actually be selling every day.

Link to the rest at Gene Doucette

Here’s a link to Gene Doucette’s books. If you like an author’s post, you can show your appreciation by checking out their books.

Barnes & Noble to divest its Nook store of third-party Android apps

3 March 2016

From Chris Meadows via TeleRead:

Barnes & Noble is emailing Nook owners explaining that, as of March 15, B&N will no longer offer third-party Android apps for sale via its app store. All previously-purchased apps will remain available for download, but no new ones will be sold. In-app purchases will no longer be supported, either.

. . . .

The rationale for the change is offered in full-on public-relations speak:

This change is being made to concentrate our focus and efforts on our core digital content business, which are Books and Newsstand, for our US customers.

We will continue offering to US customers our full service for NOOK Books, NOOK Magazines, and NOOK Newspapers on both NOOK devices and our standalone Reading Apps. We look forward to continuing to bring the best content discovery and reading experiences to our NOOK customers.

So, basically, the added effort and expense of listing third-party apps for sale was distracting Barnes & Noble from its core mission of providing digital content for Nook customers. That’s why B&N’s main competitor, Amazon, doesn’t do such a thing itself…oh, wait, it sort of does. And doesn’t allow Fire owners to add apps from Google Play.And continues to outcompete B&N, while it’s at it.

Link to the rest at TeleRead

Sounds like reducing losses in the Nook division to PG. Remaining Nookers are burning up the wires to LinkedIn and sending résumés out in herds.

Dear Publisher

3 March 2016

From Nook Press:

Dear Publisher,

We are writing to announce an important change to our NOOK Service that will affect NOOK Press vendors publishing content in the United Kingdom. Effective March 15, 2016, NOOK will no longer sell digital content in the United Kingdom. The NOOK Store on NOOK devices sold in the UK, on the NOOK Reading App for Android, and at www.nook.com/gb will discontinue operations.

. . . .

There is no change to NOOK Service or NOOK Press in the United States. If you are an author based outside the US in a supported country, you can continue to use NOOK Press to publish digital content in the United States and receive payment in your local currency.

Link to the rest at Nook Press and thanks to Joshua and others for the tip.

Popularity of e-readers declines

30 October 2015

From the Pew Research Center:

From getting news to playing games to reading a book, Americans now have a plethora of devices to choose from in order to meet their technology-based needs. For each type of device, the demographic makeup of owners can vary widely, so this section looks at these differences.

Smartphone ownership continues to grow

The rise of the smartphone has had a major social, political and cultural impact. It has changed the way people reach their friends, obtain data and media, and share their lives. Fully 68% of adults now have a smartphone, nearly double the share that Pew Research Center measured in its first survey on smartphone ownership in mid-2011. At that point, 35% of adults had smartphones.

. . . .

More than half of most demographic groups have a smartphone. Only those ages 65 and older (30% of whom own smartphones) and those who do not have a high school education (41% own smartphones) fall below majority ownership. On the other hand, those ages 18 to 49 and those in higher-income households are coming closer and closer to saturation adoption. There are no differences in smartphone ownership among different racial and ethnic groups.

. . . .

Close to half of all Americans own a tablet

The share of Americans who own a tablet computer has risen tenfold since 2010. Today, 45% of U.S. adults own a tablet – a substantial increase since Pew Research Center began measuring tablet ownership in 2010. Then, only 4% of adults in the U.S. were tablet owners. Ownership, however, is statistically the same as it was in 2014.

Tablet ownership varies across a number of demographic groups. Younger adults and those from more affluent backgrounds are more likely to own the devices, and differences tied to educational attainment are particularly pronounced: 62% of college graduates have a tablet, compared with 35% of those with a high school diploma and 19% who have not completed high school. Additionally, whites are more likely than Hispanics to own a tablet computer, while tablet ownership among blacks is not statistically different from that of whites or Hispanics.

. . . .

Popularity of e-readers declines

Some 19% of adults report owning an e-reader – a handheld device such as a Kindle or Nook primarily used for reading e-books. This is a sizable drop from early 2014, when 32% of adults owned this type of device. Ownership of e-readers is somewhat more common among women (22%) than men (15%). Whites are more likely than blacks and Hispanics to own an e-reading device, while ownership also tends to be higher among those who are more affluent and those with more education.

Link to the rest at Pew Research Center

While PG prefers using an ereader for long-form text, in a world with $50 Fire tablets, ereaders are going to be more and more of a niche product.

However, a decline in ereader sales does not imply a decline in ebook sales. PG thinks the best thing for ebook sales is a device, like a smart phone, that readers always have nearby.

B&N Readouts

14 October 2015

From Barnes & Noble:

Enjoy a quick read for every moment with our free new digital discovery feature. It’s a fun, fresh way to browse – now available on NOOK® and BN.com.

. . . .

Explore nine topics to find quick reads in favorite genres, or stumble upon authors and interests you might otherwise miss.

. . . .

Refreshed daily with book excerpts and magazine articles in popular genres & topics, B&N Readouts is customizable by the user to deliver an addictive experience.

Link to the rest at Barnes & Noble and thanks to Joshua for the tip.

Barnes and Noble results and the latest news from Perseus

15 September 2015

From Mike Shatzkin

The most recent Barnes & Noble financial results — which appear to have discouraged Wall Street investors — aren’t good news for the book business. They show that the sale of books through their stores is flat at best, as is the shelf space assigned to books. And it would take a particularly optimistic view of their NOOK results to see anything but an accelerating slide to oblivion for what was, for a time a few years ago, the surging challenger to Kindle.

***

The real failure we see at B&N, which almost certainly affected the NOOK business as well as the stores, was that the customer knowledge within the dot com and NOOK operations apparently has never been used on behalf of the store business. This might be blamed on organizational silos that ran these three components as separate businesses. The failure is otherwise hard to explain. How hard can it be, really, to dig up email addresses of people who bought a book by a particular author to let them know s/he’ll be autographing books near where they live sometime soon?

Or, putting that in terms Barnes & Noble should relate to, might you not be able to charge the publishers a promotional fee for doing that? (AND you’d drive more traffic and sell more books!)

***

The people who own and run B&N are plenty smart. Before the game changed and was complicated by the online option, they had organized their supply chain to give them real competitive advantage over Borders and all other book retailers. But they were tripped up by a combination of Amazon’s longer-term view as an upstart in the 1990s and early 2000s when B&N was an established and profitable company. This was a classic “innovator’s dilemma”, failing to employ a new technology to maximum advantage because a legacy position was being defended.

Amazon was willing to lose money for many years to build its customer base. That was how they could build their stock price. B&N was a profitable company at the top of their category. Profits were how they grew their stock price. This not only discouraged deep investment in the early years of online bookselling, it discouraged the kind of discounting from their online store that Amazon did. Both of them knew that discounted books online put competitive pressure on the brick-and-mortar business. That was fine with Amazon. It was not appealing to Barnes & Noble.

***

When B&N decided to go after the ebook market with the NOOK, organizationally they did it with a dedicated and largely independent effort, not an integrated one. That might have been necessary. But it also might have been B&N’s last chance to build on its one distinctive advantage: having a strong store base and a real dot com business. (Borders never had the latter and Amazon, of course, doesn’t have the former.)

***

But the time B&N has to change the reality that they can’t seem to grow their market share continues to shorten. The one big advantage they are likely to retain over their competitors in Seattle — who are certainly growing theirs! — will be a cooperative attitude from the publishers, who live in fear of Amazon’s growing power. But even that advantage has its limits.

Link to the rest here.

As a long time reader of Mikes blog I have to say this is one of his better posts. Some of this will no doubt be read by many here as information they already had, but the break-down is spot-on.

As for the changing landscape of B&N and its effect on the Big Five Randall views it as self-fulfilling. The dwindling shelf space at B&N will eventually lead to only the bestsellers being available. This will reduce the mid-list titles to an even smaller portion and effectively lock the Big Five into the blockbuster model for the remainder of their existence.

However, if you find yourself in sudden need of a birthday card, stuffed animal, calendar, scented candle and cup of coffee, B&N is your place for one-stop shopping. 

The Beginning of the End: B&N Shutters the International Nook Store

10 July 2015

From The Digital Reader:

Over the past month B&N has been making us wonder whether it was committed to ebooks. First B&N closed its office in Luxembourg, then it relaunched its website with a borked Nook area, and today B&N has removed all doubt.

Barnes & Noble is sending out emails to customers in Europe, sharing the news that they will soon be ex-customers.

You can find the email at the end of this post (translated from Dutch; Thanks, Martjin!) but the short version is that B&N has reiterated the announcement they made last month when they said the Nook Windows 8 app would no longer be available internationally.

B&N is abandoning most of its international customers on 7 August 2015.

The Nook Store had been available in 40 countries, including Australia, much of Europe, Canada, the UK, and the US; on 8 August the Nook Store will only be available in the US and UK (this was confirmed by B&N).

Link to the rest at The Digital Reader and thanks to Stephen for the tip.

To PG, it doesn’t look like Barnes & Noble thinks it can find a buyer for the Nook business.

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