Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue

01/07/2012

Barnes and Noble’s Financial Fiasco – Inside the Telltale Numbers


B&N shedding Nook E-Reader and Publishing Arm?

More intrigue in the publishing industry 🙂

Barnes and Noble had great strength. And they had great insight in being one of the first, if not the first, in recognizing the importance and  impending impact of the e-book … BUT, they did not follow through and let others such as Amazon and Apple capture market share and establish first brands! 

Here, then, are the revealing financial numbers inside B&N as reported by JEFFREY A. TRACHTENBERG And MARTIN PEERS in The Wall Street Journal :

Barnes & Noble Seeks Next Chapter

Barnes & Noble Inc. is the latest old-school company to discover how costly it can be to try to reinvent itself for a digital future.

The nation’s largest bookstore chain warned Thursday it would lose twice as much money this fiscal year as it previously expected, and said it is weighing splitting off its growing Nook digital-book business from its aging bookstores.

Over the past 15 years, rapid technological change has transformed the company from a dominant retailing force that left smaller booksellers quaking in fear to a struggling giant grasping for a plan to ensure its long-term relevance to the publishing industry.

Barnes & Noble realized early on that e-books could appeal to consumers, but allowed Amazon.com Inc. to get an early leg up. Now it is locked in a battle with Amazon and another deep-pocketed rival, Apple Inc., to sell both electronic books and the high-tech devices consumers use to read them.

Digital technology continues to roil all manner of once-dominant companies. Former giants such as Blockbuster Inc., Circuit City and Barnes & Noble’s main book-chain rival, Borders Group Inc., have struggled mightily—and in some cases, disappeared altogether—in the face of digital competitors including Netflix Inc. and Amazon. Wednesday’s news that Eastman Kodak Co. was contemplating seeking Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection underscored the severity of the technology threat.

Barnes & Noble’s stock fell 17% on Thursday. The company now may be at its most critical juncture since Leonard Riggio, its chairman and largest shareholder, opened his first store in New York’s Greenwich Village in 1965.

As recently as the 1990s, Barnes & Noble was known as a carnivorous competitor with the power to wipe out independent bookstores with its steeply discounted books and sprawling stores where customers could sip coffee and read in plush chairs. In New York City, the emergence of a Barnes & Noble on the Upper West Side was partly responsible for the mid-1990s closing of the beloved neighborhood bookseller Shakespeare & Company—the kind of narrative arc that cropped up in the movie “You’ve Got Mail.”

Ironically, Barnes & Noble had been one of the first to recognize the potential of digital books. In 1998, it invested in NuvoMedia Inc., maker of the Rocket eBook reader, and the bookseller actively supported digital-book sales. But in 2003, it exited the still-nascent business, saying there wasn’t any profit in it.

It wasn’t until 2009 that Barnes & Noble re-entered the business, introducing its Nook e-reader. By then, Amazon had been selling its Kindle device for about two years, and was offering best sellers for $9.99, a fraction of what hardcover best sellers are priced at.

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11/04/2011

B&N’s Nook Tablet to Compete with Amazon’s Kindle Fire


"Take That, iPad!"The Amazon and Barnes & Noble e-reader market is morphing into the tablet computer market … and bringing with it advances and features that should have Apple iPads shaking in their digital boots! … AND at a lighter weight and cost!

I just love it when the competitive intrigue goes exponential in a new industry market 🙂

This from Crain’s New York Business by Matthew Flamm: 

Barnes & Noble plays with Amazon’s Fire

The bookstore chain will introduce a new Nook tablet to compete with the e-tailer’s Kindle Fire. The new device will be available on Nov. 15.

The battle for the e-reader market isn’t over yet. Little more than a month after Amazon Inc. announced the launch of the Kindle Fire, its souped-up tablet that becomes available Nov. 15, archrival Barnes & Noble Inc. is getting set to roll out its new Nook.

The Nook Tablet, which will show movies in addition to displaying magazines, newspapers and books, will be introduced to the press on Monday morning at the Barnes & Noble Union Square store. It will be priced at $249, making it $50 more than the Fire, but will offer twice the memory of Amazon’s tablet, according to tech blog Engadget, which posted details about the new device and other updates to the Nook family of e-readers on its site Thursday evening.

In addition to its new tablet, Barnes & Noble has enhanced its Nook Color to include access to the subscription video hub Hulu Plus, and cut its price by $50 to $199. The touch-enabled Nook that launched last May with a price tag of $139 has been renamed the Nook Simple Touch and will be priced at $99. That makes it slightly more expensive than the $79 Kindle, but unlike Amazon’s device, the Nook won’t display ads.

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Related article on Amazon’s Kindle Fire

This blog is available on Kindlle :)))

 

02/22/2011

The ‘New’ Apple iPad is Late to the Dance


I’ve heard that the new, updated Apple iPad’s actual shipping date has been moved back from April to June (production problems)…This will put it behind other new tablet version debuts (the Android OS market) by a couple of months.

So what, says I. I think Apple is playing catch up (with the anticipated upgrades in their new version) with some other tablets already on the market (Motorola’s Xoom, for example).  

But, you good people will decide if Apple will continue to be the main star in the tablet computer world. Their star is already dimmer due to the bungling of the Apple’s ‘publishers subscription plan’ for newspapers and magazines. This coupled with the new talent on the block will truly shape Apple’s place in the market.

This from Stefanie Botelho of FOLIO magazine:

The new iPad may be late to its own coming out party.

Yuanta Securities Co. reports iPad manufacturer Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. is experiencing “production bottlenecks”. The shipment of the new version of the tablet might be pushed back from April to June.

Apple announced the launch of its subscription app last week, with magazines like Popular Science, Elle and Nylon signing on board.

The delay is cited to changes Apple made to the design of the second iPad in January. Vincent Chen, analyst at Yuanta, shares, “Our checks suggest new issues are being encountered with the new production and it is taking time to resolve them,” according to Bloomberg.com.

This may mean good news for the Android market. Chen observes, “As a number of Android 3.0 tablets are being launched in April and May, the delay in iPad 2 shipments may give the Android camp a brief window of opportunity.” As of last quarter, Apple’s corner 75 percent of the global tablet market, with Android tablets claiming 22 percent.

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02/12/2011

Time, Inc. Tells Apple iPad: ‘Screw You!’


SI - Just one of Time, Inc.'s stable of mags

Did you realize that Time magazine, Inc. is the world’s largest mag company? I didn’t. But it does mean that they have some horsepower to go to war with Apple over iPad access mis-management (outrageous fees, controlling subscribers info, etc) for their own products as well as on behalf of  other magazine publishers.

Apple iPad might soon find their only mag & newspaper client is Rupert Murdoch’s new Daily…and readers can only read that on the iPad to the exclusion of all other eReaders…and there are MANY with more to come…what a trashing of customer base!

Please read my other posts RE Apple iPad access and apps on Writers Welcome Blog for more background on this sticky publishing intrigue. I have conveniently listed them consecutively here.

Jeff Bercovici of Forbes.com has the latest on Time magazine’s blow-by-blow with Apple:

Time, Inc. Strikes Blows for Publishers in Standoff with Apple

For Time Inc., the world’s biggest magazine company, the quickest way to get it titles onto iPad screens may be getting them onto other tablets first.

While other publishers wrangle with Apple over the ins and outs of subscription sales in the iTunes store — How big a cut does Apple get to keep? Who gets control of the consumer’s information? Should the customer get to choose? — Time Inc. is moving ahead diagonally, making deals with the makers of other devices in hopes of gaining leverage in its negotiations with Apple.

Today, Sports Illustrated introduced an “All Access” subscription plan that will allow readers to pay one price to read the magazine in print, online, on Samsung Galaxy tablets and on Android phones. Although newspapers including The Wall Street Journal already offer such an option, SI is the first magazine to do so, according to managing editor Terry McDonell. The news comes just in time for the magazine’s swimsuit issue, its biggest annual seller.

“This is an important and fulfilling day because it marks the end of a very long march for us,” he said at a press conference. A combined print/digital subscription will cost $48 for one year or $4.99 a month; existing print subscribers will have free digital access for the remainder of their terms.

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01/29/2010

1 To 5 Million IPads To Sell First Year?

Filed under: Apple,Apple Tablet,iPad,iPad sales forecast — gator1965 @ 4:52 pm

Boy, the predictions for the success of the iPad are all over the place; but Stan Schroeder of Mashable has rounded up some interesting forecasts from Wall Street analysts and I am pleased to present them here:

We can talk about the Apple iPad as much as we want, but we all know that cold, hard sales numbers will do the real talking. When iPad lands in stores, if it doesn’t fly off the shelves, it will be further proof that Apple has made a rare stumble this time.

AppleInsider rounded up some predictions from Wall Street analysts, and boy, do they not agree. Some of them are calling the iPad “risky”; some are saying that it “has potential” and some are saying it’s “another winner”. How does that translate into numbers? Anywhere from one to five million in the first year.

Mike Abramsky from RBC Capital Markets forecasts first-year sales of five million, claiming the iPad is “a revolutionary e-reading, browsing, media, gaming experience,” but also noting that it lacks certain sought-after features, like multitasking and a camera.

Kaufman Bros’ Shaw Wu didn’t predict sales, but claims that Apple intends to build five million units in the first year, and 10 million by the end of the second year. Analyst Charlie Wolf from Needham & Company is predicting that Apple will sell four million units in the first 12 months, but Oppenheimer’s Yair Reiner and Brian Marshall from Broadpoint.AmTech are far more cautious, predicting 1.1 and 2.2 million units sold in the first year, respectively.

Apple has surprised us many times in its history, and no one can be certain just how well the iPad will sell. If it beats these estimates, though, it will cement its place in history as one of the most successful tech companies of all time.

01/26/2010

Oh Boy! A Geek’s Guide to the Apple Tablet Event


The big unveiling of the Tablet is just 24 hours away! I’ll be glad when the damn thing’s over and we all know just what in the hell the new thingy will do and what industries’ bacon it will save…if any!

Ian Paul outlines tomorrows unveiling event for us on PC World:

We’re just about 24 hours away from the most wonderful time of year, when Apple is expected bestow an exciting new product on tech enthusiasts. By most accounts, Apple’s new gadget is going to be a 10-inch touchscreen tablet designed for consuming a variety of media including video, news, books, and music.

Apple’s event starts at 10 am Pacific time on Wednesday morning. Here are a few ways to stay on top of all the action, even before the event starts.

The Live Blog

Tune into PCWorld’s live blog on Wednesday morning for blow-by-blow coverage Apple’s event. The live blog, which uses the Cover It Live software, is complements of MacWorld’s editors, which will be attending the event along with PCWorld’s editors.

Of course, PCWorld will not be offering the only live blog of the event. You can also check out Harry McCracken’s coverage over at Technologizer, and the team at Gizmodo is a good source as well.

Scorecard

With so much speculation and rumor out there, it’s no wonder the Apple Tablet is already considered one of the most overhyped tech products of all time. Everybody’s got their favorite predictions and pet theories about the Apple Tablet, and now you can keep track of all the top rumors with an Apple Tablet prediction scorecard created by software developer David Weiss.

To play along, just download the PDF and make your predictions. Give yourself one point for every prediction you get right, and zero for every prediction you get wrong. If you’re competing against friends, and two or more of you end up in a tie, the person who lives furthest from Cupertino wins.

There are 38 questions, with all kinds of predictions, including whether we’ll see Bing replace Google on the iPhone, New touchscreen Macs launched, or a new iTunes Web App. You also have to place your bets on the name of the new device choosing from: Apple tablet, Apple iTablet, iSlate, iGuide, iBook, iPad, or Canvas.

The iPhone Apps

Weiss’ software company, Unweary, is selling an iPhone app for $2.99 called Prediction that is perfect for all you rumor junkies out there. Prediction aggregates the latest tech rumors for a wide variety of tech events including tomorrow’s Apple event, Mobile World Congress 2010, E3 2010, and more. You can also use the app to share your own predictions with others. I haven’t tested it out so I can’t vouch for how comprehensive the app is, but if you’re like to stay current on all the tech rumors, this might be the app for you.

Cover it Live doesn’t have a downloadable iPhone app, but the popular live blogging service does have a mobile Web app to help keep you updated on the fly. Just point your mobile browser to coveritlive.com/mobile.php or make your selection from Cover It Live’s event listings.

Video

Apple has clamped down on pirate video streams broadcasting from Apple events. Nevertheless, it’s always worth a look over at UStream or Justin.TV to see if anyone was able to sneak a hat cam into the event.

After the product launch, Apple will post its presentation on the Quicktime Guide Website, and you can also download Apple events as a podcast on iTunes.

Twitter

If you want to follow live tweets from the event as well as commentary from the twitosphere, one of the best things to do is create hashtag searches in your twitter client for things like #apple #appleevent, #appletablet, #tablet or #appleislate. Eventually, one or two hashtags will become the preferred choices and you can just follow those.

You can also follow a variety of Twitter accounts to stay current. There are far too many possibilities to list here, but here are a few suggestions: PC World, MacWorld, MacRumors, Technologizer, Gizmodo and for a dose of tech comedy check out Fake Steve Jobs and Mosspuppet.

After the event don’t forget to check in with PC World for post-event coverage, and a complete breakdown, and analysis of every part of Apple’s product announcements.

Join PC World on Wednesday, January 27 at 10 AM Pacific/1 PM Eastern for live blog coverage of Apple’s product launch from Yerba Buena Gardens in San Francisco.

Connect with Ian on Twitter (@ianpaul).

01/25/2010

Are Anticipated Features Going To Make iTablets Viable?


This Wednesday Apple will unveil it’s much anticipated Tablet. Will the price be prohibitive? Will it have enough apps to combine/function with existing mobile devices and their OS’s and content?

Ryan Kim of the SFGate thinks the Tablet will exceed all expectations and more with his review article:

Three years ago, the technology world came to a standstill as Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone, a game changer that remade the already fast-growing smart phone market.

Now, all eyes are on Apple again this Wednesday as Jobs is expected to reveal a new Internet tablet computing device, which will blend features of a laptop and the iPhone. But unlike the launch of the iPhone, which boosted an already healthy category, Apple will be trying to resuscitate the long-neglected tablet form factor.

It is, in many ways, a taller challenge, persuading consumers to buy a product that doesn’t fill a readily apparent need. But many industry observers agree if anyone can make tablets viable, Apple has the best shot.

“Apple has a proven track record in delivering great user interfaces and easy-to-use functionality combined with the ability to launch products. If they’re not best positioned here, they’re very close,” said Steve Hasker, president of media products at the Nielsen Co.

To be sure, this Wednesday’s Apple press event makes no mention of tablets and only invites reporters to see Apple’s “latest creation.” And what details that have dribbled out have been unconfirmed.

But taken together, a picture emerges of a 10-inch multitouch device that works like a big iPhone or iPod Touch. The device – potentially called an iSlate, iPad or iTablet – would connect to the Internet via Wi-Fi and most likely through 3G cellular data networks as well, enabling a full browser and many of the more than 125,00 software applications found in the Apple App Store. And it could include a Wi-Fi Web cam for video conferencing.

The tablet – running on the iPhone OS or possibly a hybrid with the Mac operating system – would presumably display iTunes content such as music and videos. Gene Munster, an analyst with Piper Jaffray, said that alone could vault Apple’s tablet past a passel of competing slates emerging from rival companies.

“There’s a digital wall that’s hard for people to climb over and get media in a way they can use it,” Munster said. “That’s the big difference between this tablet and others.”

But the tablet appears intended to do much more than giving people a bigger mobile browser or another way to play iTunes content. Observers believe Apple has designs on revolutionizing the print and TV industries as well.

Apple is reportedly in talks with publishers to bring books to the tablet, creating a potential showdown with e-book readers such as the Kindle. Analysts such as Tim Bajarin of Creative Strategies have posited that tablets could give rise to not just digitally formatted books, but true multimedia titles that blend video, animation and graphics with text.

Industries hopeful

The magazine and newspaper industries are also watching the announcement closely in hopes that Apple’s tablet could lead consumers toward a new model of paying for slick tablet-optimized publications, much the way people pay for iPhone apps. Apple is reportedly in talks with some publishers including the New York Times and Conde Nast.

“Apple builds beautiful products so the anticipation is quite incredible for something no one is sure is coming,” said John Squires, an executive vice president for Time Inc.

The company also is rumored to be talking to broadcasters about bundling network and cable content into “Best of TV” packages, allowing viewers to pay for smaller video packages than those offered by cable.

Gaming is expected to figure heavily on the new slate device, in keeping with Apple’s newfound emphasis on mobile games on the iPod Touch.

Shervin Pishevar, CEO of gamemaker SGN, whose games are on 30 percent of iPhones and iPod Touches, said he’s excited about the prospect of porting over his titles to a larger screen tablet. He said Apple’s hypothetical tablet would continue a larger movement in computing toward mobile devices.

“Increasingly in the next five years, most of our computing will come through these connected devices,” Pishevar said. “We’re not going to be using the PCs of old. Those will be the rotary phones of our past.”

For other software companies, the tablet provides a tantalizing opportunity. Design software company Autodesk found a hit in its SketchBook Mobile, which has been downloaded more than a million times. Amar Hanspal, senior vice president of platform solutions and emerging business for Autodesk, said apps such as SketchBook that can utilize a big touch screen could be bigger winners if Apple enters the tablet market.

Price range

But the biggest question and impediment to the tablet could be its price tag. Estimates range from $700 to $1,000, although a cell phone carrier subsidy could drop that down by a few hundred dollars. There are rumors that Apple is looking to partner with Verizon Wireless and AT&T for 3G data service.

Kathleen Maher, a principal with Jon Peddie Research, said Apple would clean up in the market if the device is priced closer to $300. Retailing for more than $600 will present more problems, Maher said. A recent survey by shopping site Retrevo found that 70 percent of people would not buy an Apple tablet if it eclipsed the $700 mark.

“This is something that’s not your computer or your phone. You have those things already,” said Maher. “At that price, it’s a discretionary buy.”

No one does it better

Even with a hefty price tag, Apple has a good shot at moving a decent number of tablets in the first year, thanks to its considerable marketing machine. Munster estimates that Apple can sell about 5 million tablets in its first year on the market, similar to what the iPhone sold in year one.

The company will enjoy a wealth of free advertising from this Wednesday’s press coverage and then you can expect Apple’s commercials and in-store demos to help hammer the tablet’s message home. And, provided the tablet is up to Apple’s usually high standards, it could take flight on the wings of customer testimonials.

“You can’t rely entirely on branding and a big splash product launch, you need product demos in stores combined with good word of mouth,” said Nielsen’s Hasker. “There are people who do this well, but I don’t know anyone who does this better than Apple.”

01/20/2010

Amazon Increases Royalty Rate for Books on Its Kindle E-Reader


The upcoming release of Apple’s Tablet has spurred an interesting move by Amazon…substantially increasing royalties paid to authors and publishers.

Let the games begin!

By Motoko Rich of The New York Times:

In what appeared to be a clear bid to anticipate the release of the breathlessly awaited Apple tablet, Amazon announced Wednesday new royalty terms for authors or publishers who release e-books through its Kindle’s digital text platform, a direct publishing initiative.

Authors and publishers will be offered a royalty rate of 70 percent of the digital list price after “delivery costs,” typically about 6 cents per digital unit. This rate is similar to that currently offered by Apple in its app store.

Amazon’s move is also a clear bid to woo authors away from traditional publishing houses. Publishers typically offer authors a royalty rate equal to 15 percent of a hardcover list price and 7.5 percent of a trade paperback list price. On digital books, the emerging industry standard among the largest publishing houses is 25 percent of net proceeds from the sale of an e-book.

Amazon has set some criteria for authors or publishers who want to receive the 70 percent royalty. List prices must be from $2.99 to $9.99, a maximum that is much lower than the typical hardcover price of around $25. The e-book’s list price must also be 20 percent lower than the lowest list price for a physical copy of the same book and the same price as or lower than any competitor’s price.

Note from John: The last paragraph’s listed criteria from Amazon seems a little over-the-edge, does it not?

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