The largest U.S. bricks-and-mortar bookstore chain has built a billion-dollar digital business and, among its three units, it brings in more annual revenue than any of the largest publishers – by several billion dollars. Yet, it’s in big trouble. That, at least, has seemed to be the narrative over the past few years.
Not unfounded, per paidContent books reporter Laura Owen: B&N’s digital business is floundering after a disappointing holiday season for e-reader, tablet and digital content sales for the retailer; international expansion hasn’t yet produced any meaningful or visible results; and the stores in the U.S. have to increasingly sell things aside from books to make ends-meat. (What’s the end-game there? That B&N become Target?)
We have also heard rumblings from the book publishing digerati that B&N’s retail experience – in stores and online – is slipping in comparison to its competitors.
That said, a business with that much capital flowing through it and big-time backers in Microsoft, Pearson and Liberty Media has a fighting chance – until it doesn’t. As Owen said, “It’s really scary to me that I covered the bankruptcy of one major bookstore chain last year and I’m kind of wondering if I’m going to be doing the same thing…next year, a couple years from now.”
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The rest of the day’s top news:
Barnes & Noble’s Massive Tablet Failure (Eoin Purcell)
While all of its competitors – from Amazon to ASUS to Samsung – greatly increased the numbers of tablets they sold in 2012, a banner year for the device category, B&N sold fewer than it did in 2011.
Barnes & Noble Overly Optimistic About Its Dark Future? (The Shatzkin Files)
Book publishing consultant (and DBW partner) Mike Shatzkin wonders if B&N’s own assessment of closing nearly a third of its locations in the next decade is overly optimistic.
Self-Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing (HuffPo)
The pros and cons of both listed out. A bit oversimplified, too. (More on self-publishing vs. traditional publishing vs. hybrid publishing here.)
Top Ten Mistakes Writers Make When Self-Publishing (DBW)
Ten books with traditional publishers and two on his own and Guy Kawasaki has seen it all. He offers this helpful primer on what not to do. (Boiling it down, put time, effort and thought into every stage of the publishing process, like full-service publishers do.)
The Next Ebook Wave (Forbes)
Publishing company CEOs should sit down before reading this: Things are about to get a whole lot more digital in the book world.
Small Publisher Power (IBPA)
Over the past four years, the publishing industry in the U.S. has grown. Smaller publishers, as a group, have far outstripped the growth of the industry as a whole.
Pearson, Gutenberg, Windows 8 (DBW)
Pearson UK has teamed up with e-textbook production technology vendor Gutenberg Technology to create what they are calling the first e-textbooks designed for the Windows 8 platform.
Amazon Down? (GigaOm)
The Amazon.com homepage was out of commission for about 40 minutes yesterday – but why?
Digital Manga (PW)
Calif.-based Manga comic publisher Digital Manga will be shutting down its print wholesale division which sold overstocked and returned items at a deep discount.
Transmedia Book Event? (BookRiot)
Maybe the coolest book event ever. Certainly the coolest one in Brooklyn in 2013 (probably).
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