Round up #287: Barnes & Noble now, PTA powered by Kindle

Round up #287: Barnes & Noble now, PTA powered by Kindle

The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.

National PTA Family Reading Experience powered by Kindle

Amazon sent me an e-mail about this one, and it is fascinating!

March is National Reading Month, and while I’d like to see a lot more adults reading a lot more books, the focus is mostly on children.

The National PTA (Parent Teacher Association) has a program called the Family Reading Experience…and Amazon and the Kindle are quite involved in it:

In fact, I was intrigued by how involved.

This isn’t just a passive “throw some money at the problem”.

EBRs (E-Book Readers) are touted on the infographic about what encourages children to read.

Perhaps more interesting was this video, linked on the PTA page:

National PTA Family Reading Experience Engages Families in Literacy (video)

I’ve never seen a better recommendation for the Kindle as a positive force for literacy.

Recently, Amazon has gotten particularly good at promoting non-Fire Kindles for use for kids…see this page: (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Meanwhile, at Barnes & Noble

While sailing on the sea of commerce, Barnes & Noble has been struggling to stay afloat.

They’ve certainly been trying different things, and they aren’t sunk yet.

That’s despite the NOOK, which has been a drag on their sales for some time.

We had heard that they were going to separate the NOOK business into a separate business…throw the anchor overboard.

Well, now, as reported in this

Slate post by Alison Griswold

and other sources, they’ve decided to throw the boat overboard and keep the anchor. 😉

What do I mean by that?

They are going to spinoff the Barnes & Noble Education business (the college bookstores, mostly) into its own publicly traded business.

press release

Why would they do that, when the college businesses have been the part of the three part business (college, NOOK, and retail) that is doing well? Is it because Amazon has started to move more into the college bookstore business, and there are other challengers? I don’t think so.

They way they are doing it, it is a boon to stockholders (who get stock in the new company), and that’s a good thing right now. Since they made the announcement, the stock has jumped more than 7%.

Second, well…I think it’s possible that they may want to dump the losing parts and keep that one.

Yep, sell off the bookstores…I could see that happening.

As to the NOOK…I don’t see them getting out of the e-book business, but they might get out of the branded hardware business.

Speaking of which…

They’ve also completely revamped their NOOK for Android app:

press release

Shopping will be easier (I do find that clunky even in Amazon’s Kindle store on a Fire), and you’ll be able to set up profiles and individual shelves.

I could see this kind of strategy continuing to work for the near future.

Sell books on other people’s devices, and work on the user interface so it’s enjoyable and efficient.

What’s next? A replicator under your bed?

Amazon’s already got physical delivery down to one hour (at least in Manhattan).

Amazon announces Prime Now: delivery in an hour

They’ve talked about using drones (although there are still regulatory hurdles on that).

Now, according to this

Wall Street Journal post by Greg Bensinger

and other sources, Amazon has applied for patents related to 3D printing items for customers…even from inside delivery trucks.

At this point, 3D printing is limited as to what it can produce (plastics work well…food has been done), and it takes a while to make something.

Still, I can just imagine electric Amazon trucks that just consistently cruise around neighborhoods. You’d get quite used to them. After all, electric vehicles are quiet…I drive a hybrid, and when I’m in electric vehicle mode, I still sometimes really surprise pedestrians.

A small plastic piece breaks on your printer (assuming you would still use a printer). You order it from Amazon (perhaps using your Amazon Echo).

The truck (it could even be an autonomous, self-driven vehicle) “prints” that piece and delivers it to you.

Now, would it be able to do that faster than Prime Now?

I’m guessing no.

However, as a former brick and mortar bookstore manager (and I managed a couple of other types of stores as well), the idea of not having to stock rarely ordered items is very exciting…and economically valuable.

In the bookstore, we’d had this old, yellowed, crunchy, single copy of a paperback on the shelf for years.

When somebody finally bought it, the inventory system wanted to order another one to replace. 🙂

That’s a place where human override was important.

We had likely lost money on that sale.

Remember that we were paying rent for the space under that book for all that time.

From time to time, employees probably had to straighten up (“merchandise”) that shelf.

If this was a book we could have returned for credit, we would have done that…but not every publisher allows it.

I could have thrown it away or donated it somewhere, I suppose, but I have faith in books. 🙂

This is years away, certainly.

I can also envision homes having an Amazon 3D printer in them. You order it, Amazon charges you what is basically a licensing fee for the design and maybe for the raw material (although I could see customers providing that), and it prints right then and there.

Actually, that could work quite well. You could even hold up an item to a visual scanner, and if Amazon had the deal with the “rightsholder” for that item, it could reproduce it for you.

There’s got to be some good way to tie this into gaming and toys…because that’s where innovation often happens first.

Naturally, some people may also relate this to POD (Print On Demand) for paper books…and that could work also.

What do you think? If Barnes & Noble continues as a digital enterprise, when would you buy a NOOK book rather than a Kindle book? Should the PTA have partnered with a specific company? It’s National Reading Month…why not recommend a book you think would help a child become a lifelong reader? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.


4 Responses to “Round up #287: Barnes & Noble now, PTA powered by Kindle”

  1. Angelo B. Says:

    Hi Bufo,

    The only reason to buy a Nook book instead of a Kindle book is if the customer owns only a Nook reader and nothing else. My first e-reader was the 1st generation Nook; within weeks I realized my mistake and bought a Kindle Keyboard. Fortunately I did not invest heavily in Nook books and although that original Nook has stopped working, I still have access to my library through the Nook iPad app.

    It’s unfortunate that Barnes & Noble has fallen on difficult times. I have fond memories of my three children (now grown) browsing happily through our hometown B&N, as well as B&N stores in different cities we visited. And to this day, the majority of our homes’ print book collections are titles purchased from B&N.

    In a world where it is increasingly difficult for competing formats in any arena to coexist, the reality is that the Kindle is about make the Nook obsolete (see VHS vs. Beta, Blu-Ray vs. HD-DVD, etc.). And that is too bad, because healthy competition is always a good thing.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Angelo!

      I appreciate that insight. I did enjoy shopping in brick and mortar Barnes & Noble stores, although Borders tended to be better, or at least more interesting, for me. The Borders stores had inhouse buyers for different sections, or at least the one where I knew an employee did. Someone actually in that particular store would make decisions for the science fiction section, for example, which meant there tended to be more turnover and quirkier titles.

      Of course, Borders went bankrupt…

  2. Tom Semple Says:

    I was wondering how the spinoff of the B&N college business would affect their digital textbook business. It turns out that what used to be called ‘Nook Study’ has been rebranded ‘Yuzu’ ( which is part of the new business, ‘Barnes & Noble College Booksellers, LLC’. That actually makes some sense, and gives me hope that we haven’t lost a competitor and potential innovator in the digital textbook space, which is desperately in need of better solutions and business models.

    The Yuzu app is currently available for iOS, Windows 8.1, and Web. Unlike Nook, they have some open job requisitions (including Android and MacOS engineers). I just installed the Yuzu app on my iPad. It launches with a tiny little window to review a license agreement, which is many thousands of words long. It defines terms such as “Interactive Community”, “User Generated Content”, implying they want to add some social networking features. And references to ‘Sub-Accounts’, which I think is the ability to link to specific storefronts (perhaps associated with a specific college store and ‘interactive community’). It all seems rather thin right now, but I imagine they may get some investors (wonder what has happened with Pearson Education’s stake in Nook? did that get bought out like Microsoft’s) now that there’s more of a clear path.

    While Amazon has made some moves in the textbook space, I think they are just experimenting and not much disruption is possible at this point. But I think it is inevitable; between open-source textbook initiatives, MOOCs, and masses of digital natives growing up, publishers will not be able to maintain the price points they have traditionally commanded, and ‘textbooks’ as we have known them may even go away. I think Amazon might make some strategic acquisitions around this (must be startups working on MOOC platforms, buy Chegg etc.) rather than inventing everything from scratch.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Tom!

      I absolutely agree about Amazon being needing to be more aggressive on e-textbooks!

      Apple’s made some moves in that space, but nobody’s really revolutionized it, and I think there is ample opportunity.

      Social elements would be good. Somebody really needs to sit down and see how students use textbooks now, and what they would want to do with them.

      The model right now of an expensive item that you effectively use in isolation and then dump seems to be fragile.

      Maybe the money could be made by having electronic study groups, and notes, and that sort of thing. The book becomes the basis, but it could also be like an app with in-game purchases. Want to join a group of ten people studying this? X amount. Want to attend a session with a tutor who is an expert on it? X amount. Want summary notes? X amount.

      Sure, that could create a resources divide…but that already exists…

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