Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue

07/18/2013

Barnes & Noble is Really an Ally of Amazon


Barnes & Noble stores – lands of discovery for ALL readers – Even e-book readers!

B&N an Amazon ally? Many may not realize this fact; but B&N has helped Amazon succeed and Amazon should show a little respect!

B&N has had a recent spate of bad bumps caused by dings to themselves and the book industry in general — like the declining sales of Nook, the resignation of William Lynch as head of their tech side (due to a $177 million Nook loss), the big six downsizing to five with the Penguin/Random House merger and Apple losing it’s agency pricing case in court.

But, believe it or not, B&N STILL has solid business fundamentals as demonstrated by a 16% increase in earnings (EBITDA) even as sales declined by 5% – 6%.

The possible hidden power of B&N lies in the ability of the re-crowned head of the company (and the one who initially built B&N to a major bookseller chain), 72-year-old Mr. Leonard Riggio — who also loves the physical book stores. He also has a genuine respect for the new digital tech. Point is, he knows how to run a store with ambiance and panache!

Mr. Riggio wants to buy back all the B&N stores and take them private again. I think this is a good start as he won’t have to put up with a lot of investors and boards of directors that might not see his particular vision for the physical bookstore plus amenities that creates an intelligent respite from the cold, harsh world — You just can’t get this kind of ‘creation’ from a tablet.

So, just how is B&N an ally of Amazon? People just love to browse physical artifacts in a warm, restful space (Homo sapiens can’t live on-line ALL the time) — they look at books with neat covers, read the cover flaps and decide they want to buy — either in-store OR very often over their devices. B&N has probably acted as the catalyst for numerous digital buys!

Bookstores are ‘lands of discovery’, even for e-book readers.

So, B&N is still earning and publishers’ net revenue grew $1 billion in 2012, upping their take to $15 billion — much of it due to the wide margins provided by e-books (no manufacturing, no shipping and no remaindering) — If only they could get over the fact that Amazon’s concurrent growth makes them secondary characters in a business they used to control.

Really, there is room for everybody.

David Carr writes this for The New York Times:

Why Barnes & Noble Is Good for Amazon

On Thursday night in Clifton, N.J., Barnes & Noble was a way station, a third place between work and home where people sought respite and diversion. With its high ceilings, wide aisles and a large Starbucks, it is the kind of retail outlet that gives big-box stores a good name.

In one aisle, a father and daughter were having a spirited generational discussion over the side-by-side covers of “The Great Gatsby,” one of which bore an image of Leonardo DiCaprio. For reasons I wasn’t quite clear about but nonetheless found charming, an older couple used a book on vegetarian cooking to cover up a copy of “The Art of Seduction” on the shelf. Nearby, two apparent siblings, one sporting pink hair and the other purple, traded loud opinions over the True Crime display.

Watching the readers lounge in chairs with a view of Route 3, it was hard to reconcile the pageantry of retailing with the brutal recent headlines about the book business.

At the beginning of July, the Big Six publishers became the Big Five with the blending of Penguin and Random House. At the beginning of last week, the chief executive of Barnes & Noble left the company after a grim earnings report that highlighted a failed strategy to have the company’s Nook device compete in the crowded tablet space.

Then on Thursday, Judge Denise L. Cote of United States District Court in Manhattan issued a withering decision against Apple, writing that the company had conspired with the major publishers to fix the price of e-books in an effort to thwart Amazon’s momentum.

So far, what has been bad for the industry has not yet hit consumers directly. If they are among the many millions of people enthralled by CBS’s “Under the Dome,” and decide to read the giant Stephen King novel that inspired it, they can hop on Amazon and buy it with a click for $13.99. Or they could avoid its door-stopping heft and spend just $7.99 for the Kindle version.

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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

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