Barnes & Noble Beats a Path Back to Retail

Ronald Boire Barnes & Noble Nook retail bookstoresBarnes & Noble names a new CEO to help steer the company back toward its roots as a bookstore chain after the spinoff of its college division is completed this summer.

Ronald D. Boire, the head of Sears Canada, comes to Barnes & Noble with executive-level experience in retail and consumer technology, with a focus on the electronics market.

When he succeeds Michael Huseby, who is set to head up the newly formed education company starting in September, Boire will need to manage the reintegration of whatever remains of Nook Media with Barnes & Noble, Inc.

How the bookseller meets that challenge will play a role in shaping Barnes & Noble’s broader digital strategy—including in the ebook market it’s been retreating from.


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How Retail Bookstores Have Weathered Ebooks (Pub Lunch)
The landscape for major retail booksellers has transformed markedly since the rise of the ebooks. Publishers Lunch takes a look back over the past eight years to understand how Barnes & Noble in particular got to the position it now finds itself in, and to consider what the bookseller’s next moves might be.

Cries of Protest, Calls for Patience as Kindle Rates Shift (Teleread)
What one observer calls the “pay-per-page era” for Amazon’s KDP Select authors kicked off officially just a few days ago, but already the controversial new compensation scheme is drawing a broad range of reactions from authors. While one calls for authors to back out of the program, another observes it will take some time before any reliable proof of its pros and cons can be found in the pudding.

Four (Other) Impediments to Ebook Competition (Futurebook)
While the European Commission is busy looking into whether the “most favored nation” clauses Amazon requires in its contracts with publishers violates European trade laws, Andrew Rhomberg, founder of the UK-based publishing start-up Jellybooks, argues that those terms are “not the only inhibitor to innovation and diversity in ebook retail” and counts off four other ways regulators could boost the EU’s digital content market.

More Shifting Sands for Subscription Ebooks? (INscribeDigital)
One publishing services company sees Scribd’s decision to pare back a costly romance catalog not as a sign of turbulence for the subscription model but as “a repositioning—something that we expect to see a few times before subscription services realize their full potential.” In this view, those changes are likely to get more numerous and complex as the subscription ebook market grows, with tiered pricing schemes being just one approach we might soon see more of.

Not All Subscription Models Created Equal (Nieman Lab)
There are a number of different directions the leading ebook subscription services might take. In one scenario, they might determine “that a middleman model doesn’t work well for ebook subscriptions.” After all, subscription-based formulas that have worked in other forms of media might not prove as transferrable as some may hope: “Netflix is Netflix, Spotify is Spotify, and ebook and magazine subscription sites are, well, something else.”

Is Publishing Behind the Digital Ball? (The Bookseller)
The head of a UK trade organization for publishers says the idea that traditional publishing has yet to truly embrace digital technology is false: “One of the truly impressive things about our industry is how we have responded to the changes in technology and the new ways that readers are accessing entertainment.” Others, though, say the transformation is a question of survival and nowhere near complete.
Related: Do Publishers Innovate Too Slowly? Can Start-ups Help?

In Defense of Trade Nonfiction Quality (Guardian)
One nonfiction author recently argued that the quality of trade nonfiction is in a tailspin as commercial publishers chase marketing opportunities, while academic presses are, by contrast, enjoying a “golden age.” Now the man who edits the books of the author who lodged that complaint steps up to argue the reverse—that, “far from luring publishers into putting out ever-blander mash-ups of previous ideas,” a competitive and sometimes “tough” book market is “forcing us to be better, leaner and more competitive.”

Why Amazon Is Looking to India (TheStreet)
Amazon sees considerable potential for e-commerce in India, where it’s recently announced plans to dramatically expand its cloud computing business. Here’s a look at some of the key reasons the e-tailer is investing in the Indian market and the competitive challenges it faces there already.


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