Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Nook can't find a nook.

I think the book industry overreacted.  They saw what happened to the music industry and decided such a thing wouldn't happen to them.  But books aren't music.

Barnes and Noble, particularly, seemed to decide that slow books were doomed and that digital was the future.

I have felt that slow books aren't going anywhere, that the surge in ebook and ereaders would fade as some readers come back and others kept buying both platforms.   In fact, books sales haven't really declined as much as people seem to think, and some independent bookstores are actually doing well.

Barnes and Noble bet on the wrong horse.   Worse, they pretty much told everyone that. 

Surprise, surprise, people believed them.

But Kindle is out there, and Ipads and -- I believe -- cheaper knockoffs are coming.  You don't want to be the second or third choice and it seemed to me that Barnes and Noble was never going to be anything but the second or third or fourth choice.

They've given up on their color readers, making arrangements with others to make them instead.  This is the first in a long line of downward spiral decisions, I'm believe.

I think bookstores are still viable, done right.  Like any small business, they are difficult under any circumstances, but where there are challenges there are also opportunities. 

Barnes and Noble has some real challenges -- Amazon has a bigger selection, cheaper, which is exactly the features that B & N used to kill off independents.  They are a big box, and I think big box stores depend too much on expansion, whereas B & N is planning to close a third of their stores. 

But pushing digital at the expense of physical was going to have consequences.  Putting your digital booth front and center is giving off the wrong message. 

I would have doubled down on books, but the conventional wisdom -- based on what happened to music -- was that this was suicidal.   Barnes and Noble bought into the conventional wisdom.

So fundamentally, they just went the wrong direction.

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