Barnes and Noble – Not Just for Books Anymore

Posted by on October 27, 2011 at 11:58 am

According to the Chicago Tribune, Barnes and Noble is now dipping it’s feet into the consumer electronics and home products space, and a quick click over to Barnes and Nobles website confirms it. Clicking on Electronics brings up “Featured Categories” with pictorial representation such as cameras, notebooks/tablets, gadgets, and a few others. So far it reminds me of Best Buy’s website layout but with fewer options to sort a product by relevance, like price, manufacturer, ratings, etc. You know, things Amazon, Newegg, and even e-Bay have had since the dawn of time.

B&N needs to realize that Amazon is successful with its Kindle platform for 3 reasons: Inexpensive, easy to use, and no cables or software required to use the kindle. For example, the local library allows you to rent eBooks, to both Nook and Kindle. For Kindle, or kindle apps for you iPad/Android fans, I can browse to the Library’s cyber-books page, find a book to rent, click “Rent for Kindle” and it’s beamed strait to my device. For Nook, however, it requires that I have an Adobe Digital Editions account, I have the Adobe Digital Editions and Nook Software downloaded to my computer, then I have to download the eBook, and using the Nook Software, add the book to the Nook. What a pain.If B&N doesn’t shape up, I have a feeling that finding books locally will be nearly impossible. Well Barnes and Noble, your in luck, because I have a couple of easy solutions.

Focus on Books

When I think Barnes and Noble I think books. Not iPads, or laptops, but books. So, B&N, stop selling DVD’s, CD’s, computers, and MP3 players (Just ask Borders how well that went) and instead use that warehouse space to stock books. Lots of Books. Redesign the Website to push Nook books instead of paper books. Ebooks are the future, and the sooner you get poeple locked into the Nook platform, the better. Ink more deals with publishers to get first releases or timed exclusives of digital books, comics, and graphic novels. Improve your selection of digital text books, and make it easy to rent textbooks from your website. Make it easier to rent a book from libraries, and start an awareness campaign so that people know they can rent Nook books from the library. Make it easier than ever to get a Nook book from any source.

Focus your Technology

Firstly, slash the price of the Nook Color to $149.99. Yes, you’ll lose $100 from what you sell them at now, but with the Kindle Fire at $199.99, you’re going to have a heck of a time selling an inferior product for $50 more. So, drop the price of the Nook Color, give the Nook Color access to the Android Market, and tweak the user interface of the Nook Color to accommodate normal Android Apps.

Secondly, only produce two types of Nooks: Nook Touch and Nook Color. Price the Nook Touch at $79 and call it a day. Subsidize the price with adds on the screen saver, if necessary, but you have to stay close to Amazon’s Kindle prices. And really, more people will go for the Nook Color, especially at that price. Give Nook Colors to universities, and if you bolster your Textbook selection, then college students will be using B&N for all their textbook needs, without breaking their backs carrying them. You could even Lease Nook Colors to High Schools. Just think, High Schools could have the latest version of a text book, and you’d be cutting down on paper wast from textbooks, as well as utilizing that space more efficiently.

Recognize the Future

The future looks bleak for brick-and-mortar stores. With most Americans on the Internet, and the low overhead for e-tailers like Newegg and Amazon, brick-and-mortar chains just can’t compete with those prices. And, with most Americans on 1.5Mbps or Higher Internet speeds, digital distribution is more viable than shipping. Focus on your Nook Platform, on as many devices as you can. Make a WebOS apps. Yes, I know WebOS is in limbo, but with all of those TouchPads out there, why not tap into that? In the end, even if you don’t sell your own hardware, as long as there’s an app for that, you’ll be fine.


Dear Barnes and Noble:

What the hell happened to your By Book or By Nook campaign? I liked that a lot better than the idea of selling electronics on your website! Like Brandon, when I think Barnes and Noble I think books. I think about the place that I can spend hours browsing for something to read, and I’m not just talking about the store, I’m talking about the website too. I love going through the e-books to find new sales, new authors and even new freebies that I can download to my Nook and take on the road with me. I have been a die hard Barnes and Noble fan for most of my life, and now you’re breaking my heart.

I have a first generation Nook, and though I don’t use it as much as I used to, I still love it. I really wanted to upgrade to either a Nook Color, or the new Nook that’s truly the size of a paper back, but the problem is the lack of functionality. After much convincing my husband has talked me into either doing a Kindle Fire or an Android tablet, and that makes me cringe.

I agree with Brandon that B&N needs to refocus on the Nook. I feel like someone high up on the Barnes and Noble ladder had the thought of, ‘Amazon is successful, let’s be more like them!’ and then took the completely wrong approach to it. Yes, Amazon is successful because of the amount and variety of product that they are offering, but if you noticed they’re main focus right now is the Kindle Fire. Imagine that. It’s because they know the market out there and they have a huge piece of it when it comes to e-books. Being able to check library books out on it, a wide selection of text books, and really a better selection all together.

All we can do is wait and see what this new direction will bring for Barnes and Noble. Now not only are they competing with Amazon, they put themselves in competition with the electronics gurus of the Internet, like Best Buy and Newegg. I would hate to see B&N go the way of Borders and have to shut down because of poor choices. That would mean the end of era, no more big book stores, and seeing as independent book stores are scarce in most cities, that would leave places like Walmart and Target to buy hard copies of books from. Has the day for an e-book takeover truly come? What is this world coming to with Barnes and Noble selling electronics? Yes for now it’s online, but I doubt it will be long before we see them in stores as well.


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    1. Kindle Fire doesn’t have microSD slot that, for example, Nook Color has thus it is stuck with 6 GB usable internal storage unlike Nook Color that can get up to 32 GB card in. Kindles are made to be almost like a “dumb terminal” of the past to make sure you’re tied up to Amazon’s storage on the web (for which you need Wi-Fi connection to get to) and you can only store content you get from Amazon there, not other files. Quoting Amazon on Kindle Fire: “Free cloud storage for all Amazon content”. Get it, Amazon content?
    2. The stats of how long the battery can last (Kindle Fire theory is 7.5 hours) are taken with Wi-Fi off. It will last only about 3 hours if you use it to access content from their Cloud storage over Wi-Fi.
    3. Amazon can spy on your web activity through their new cloud-integrated web browser of Kindle Fire.
    4. VERY IMPORTANT – lack of microSD slot means that if you decide to root your Kindle Fire, you’ll have to root the actual device thus there will be no coming back. On Nook Color, you can make it boot from a “rooted” microSD card and if you want to get back to the original Nook you can just take out the card and reboot.
    5. Kindle Fire doesn’t have a camera.
    6. Kindle Fire has about 70% less usable screen area than iPad 2.
    7. Kindle doesn’t support eBooks in ePub format that is the most used format in the world.
    8. Kindle app store contains only Amazon approved apps and it does not include (and will not include) Netflix app that iPad has and Nook Color is getting thus again you’re stuck with Amazon content only.
    9. Amazon confirmed that you cannot download anything to Kindle Fire when traveling outside US.
    10. Amazon says it will review every app in its Appstore for Fire compatibility, as part of an automated process. Rejected apps will include those that rely on a gyroscope, camera, WAN module, Bluetooth, microphone, GPS, or micro SD. Apps are also forbidden from using Google’s Mobile Services (and in-app billing), which, if included, will have to be “gracefully” removed. In terms of actual content, Amazon has outlawed all apps that change the tablet’s UI in any way (including theme- or wallpaper-based tools), as well as any that demand root access.
    11. I’d recommend waiting for Nook Color 2 that is rumored to be released by Barnes & Noble shortly.

  • It’s neat that they are offering the option to rent textbooks. That’s definitely a trend that I can see picking up even more over the next couple of years.