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Ailing Barnes and Noble: Decrease and Decline of Territorial Limitation

Posted on 2013-Jan-07

by BB eBooks Staff

Novel Ambition


One of the main reasons I wrote about Thailand’s reading statistics in the previous blog is I try to raise awareness of Thai readers to be infatuated with passionate reading. Based on my observation and the newspaper report, the dream to see avid readers concentrating on books or eReaders is somewhat far-reaching at this stage of literary implementation. Hopefully, the wider availability of Kindles could open up new business opportunities for authors. I took the liberty to introduce PaperWhite to my friends yesterday and their confusing response was all I witnessed. Being unable to catch up with international citizens’ ambition, one could get caught up in the storm full of decrease and decline.

Decrease and Decline


Decrease and decline become the two interchangeable terms that best describe the current corporate performance B&N has to report to the public. Disappointment might even be an understatement of their frustration about their sales during the most profitable of the year, Christmas season. Joanna Cabot from Teleread writes extensively how B&N treats customers living outside the U.S. or U.K. territory as if they were insignificant enough. U.S. or U.K. physical address tends to be the prime qualification for general booklovers to be crowned as B&N customer. The writer lives north of American territory yet could not get her Nook run with full features enabled.

Nook’s Closed Ecosystem


Mobilereads forum shows a split opinion about setting up Nook outside the U.S. While Katya42 believes the main reasons she got it under control are U.S. bank account and address whereas Geertm and Stensie4JC refer to how obtaining a U.S. address and VPN will ensure a smooth setup experience. Regardless of the workaround international Nook clients have had to deal with, getting Kindle Paperwhite to work was quite a breeze, contradictorily.

Hardware Difficulties

Back in July last year, Ken Sullivan reported how customers outside the U.S. mainland are “out of luck” if they want to register the device properly. Ken similarly suggested sidesteps to make Nook work. Unfortunately, Nook Simple Touch was riddled with hardware difficulties. Putting these obstacles together might give the rough sketch how their holiday’s sales plummet down the hill with 10.9% decrease in the Retail segment. This particular internal bleeding might not be pleasing to hear not to mention having had to compile the loss data. Missing the international market potentials is like falling off a cliff on your face.

Core Business and Community Support


Not only Joanna can see right through the future how Nook might undergo some serious failing, other comments flooding the virtual space weighing in the possible factors that degrades the integrity of the last brick and mortar bookstore standing. The flood of other retail products-Lego sets, toys, tschotskies- tend to prevent the physical store from doing what they used to do best; that is, selling books. The comparison between Amazon and Barnes & Noble community support forum is also unavoidable here. See the difference for yourself how active the two pages may have been showered with new questions and resolutions. Apparently, less users and developers are flying Barnes & Noble’s flag these days. In Bill Smith’s opinion, he thinks that B&N stores are steering away and there is a negative consequence for that. What’s left for book people?

Downward Sales


B&N disappointing sales does not come as a surprise for Dan Eldridge. His prediction offers mild consolation and an intimidating warning for B&N to learn and solve the problem. Although the retail giant has a Plan B in the education market to stay safe, Amazon and Google will become direct competitors to eat them alive in this year. According to Dan, Nook tablets’ decent quality combined with open system is praiseworthy. To find the real culprits or scapegoats behind the frustrating sales report, there are simply too many ranging from inflexible digital ecosystem to lack of customer service. Jeremy Greenfield emphasizes the fact that B&N could not live to the previous year’s sales performance and entering 2013 with this embarrassing struggle is definitely not a good start. What will the new investor say then?

Expansion vs. Resistance

In the closing sentences of their holiday sales results released on Jan 3, B&N still hopes that they can live up to the reader’s expectation and perform better this year to avert the disastrous situation. Past successes were being brought up to dust themselves off. Optimistic strategies are weapons to bring in profitability status in the future in which investors will keep their close eye on next month. All in all, my humble prediction is the opposite market strategy between Amazon’s expansion to international border versus Barnes & Noble’s closed ecosystem will conveniently allow authors to make up their mind how they will make their discoverability more perfectly aligned with reality.

Label: eBook Industry News

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