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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11/25/2011

A Popular App Based on a Book Drives Sales of Both


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The Solar App

Could the reverse be true? Could a book based on an app produce the same results?

This is the premise in an article by Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg in the Wall Street Journal … and it really caught my eye. The reason it grabbed the attention of this non-techie is simply this: I thought an app was nothing more than a computer language code that told software to do something … and I’m having trouble visualizing that into a book 🙂

Perhaps it’s a written code that translates the content of a printed book so it can go digital … But, if that is the case, isn’t that just an e-book and not an app? (Is an e-book itself an app?)

Maybe one of the more enlightened can educate me on this. I’m probably making this more complicated than it is. My mind suffers from tunnel vision sometimes. 

Jeffrey’s article follows:

Last year, Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers Inc. learned that a popular iPad application based on a book could drive sales of both. Now the publisher will see whether the reverse works: a book based on an iPad app.

Black Dog this month published the print book “Solar System: A Visual Exploration of the Planets, Moons, and Other Heavenly Bodies that Orbit Our Sun” by Marcus Chown. The 224-page book, priced at $29.95, is filled with space photos and graphics that track the planets as well as asteroids and comets.

It was originally published as an iPad app for Christmas 2010 as a joint venture between the U.K.’s Touch Press LLP and Faber & Faber Ltd. Priced at $13.99, the app has sold 75,000 copies globally, said Max Whitby, chief executive of Touch Press.

In addition to presenting an interactive experience with the solar system, it contains 30,000 words of text by Mr. Chown, a science writer. The partners subsequently licensed the U.S. and other print rights to Black Dog & Leventhal. The physical book is being published in the U.K. by Faber & Faber.

Black Dog will be watching to see whether the parallel effort does as well as Theodore Gray’s “The Elements,” published in 2009 originally as a physical book. Mr. Gray subsequently teamed up with Mr. Whitby to publish an app version of “The Elements” that went on sale in April 2010 at the same time that Apple Inc. launched its iPad. “We were in the app store on day one,” said Mr. Gray.

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