Archive for the ‘nook’ Category

Meanwhile, at Barnes & Noble…comparable sales down 3%, new NOOK tablet, Black Friday

November 23, 2016

Meanwhile, at Barnes & Noble…comparable sales down 3%, new NOOK tablet, Black Friday

Interesting week at Barnes & Noble…

First, they released financial for Q2, and they simply aren’t good.

press release

Comparable store sales were down 3.2%. NOOK sales (both devices and NOOK books) were down another 19.4%, continuing an “off the cliff” trend.

As a former brick-and-mortar bookstore manager, I find it quite odd that Leonard Riggio, Chief Executive Officer (they are looking for another…Riggio was the founding force behind this incarnation of B&N, and had chosen to reduce involvement, but stepped up again recently as a temporary measure) and Chairman of the Board, is blaming the election for “sluggish sales”.

The election should have been good for book sales: people are more curious, more information seeking. I don’t recall that being a trend in past elections, although perhaps the suggestion is that this particularly contentious election took people’s minds away from reading. Also, the idea that this post-election period is going to make people re-engage with reading if they had stepped away…well, I’d say the news coverage hasn’t been less about politics recently than it was in the lead-up.

It’s also worth noting that the big tradpubs (traditional publishers) have been having relatively good financial reports recently, suggesting that they weren’t negatively impacted by the election (which has been going on really for more than a year). It feels…counterintuitive that the publishers wouldn’t be negatively impacted but that Barnes & Noble would. B&N is less symbiotic with book publishing than it used to be (they sell a lot more toys and other non-book items now than previously), but still…

Right in the midst of this, they are announcing a new NOOK branded tablet, in the stores on Black Friday.

NOOK press release

It’s $49.99, and NOOK tablets are good devices. They say “It features front and rear-facing cameras, Bluetooth compatibility, a soft-touch back, a quad-core processor, and expandable storage space from 8GB to an additional 128GB via a microSD card (sold separately)…” Good tablet, good price, quite a few benefits for NOOK customers (including being able to read “any book” on it for an hour a day when in a Barnes & Noble. The NOOK brand of hardware has been fine…it’s been more of B&N that’s been the issue.

Barnes & Noble also announced the appointment of Demos Parneros as Chief Operating Officer (COO).

COO press release

Some in the blogosphere were surprised that they announced a COO before a new CEO, but I’m sure they want to get through the holiday season before changing out the CEO.

With all that said, there are still good reasons to shop at a B&N on Black Friday (the Friday after Thanksgiving), even though I would say that is more for physical books (and other items).

Black Friday press release

They are doing something again this year which they did last year…signed editions. More than half a million books have been signed, and by some very well known people. Some of these will sell out quickly, and they do make great gifts.

Signed Editions information

Signing authors include current pop culture favs Amy Schumer and Trevor Noah, and nostalgic signed editions include The Phantom Tollbooth and The Outsiders.

We’ll be doing most of our Black Friday shopping at Amazon

Amazon Black Friday (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

but we do go out on Black Friday itself and over that weekend. Our main purpose is Toys for Tots, but we like to get books to donate as well.

Don’t forget that there are great deals on Amazon devices right now! I’d particularly suggest

All-New Kindle Paperwhite, 6″ High-Resolution Display (300 ppi) with Built-in Light, Wi-Fi – Includes Special Offers (at AmazonSmile*) $99.99 (down from $119.99)

but there are a lot of choices.

Have fun!

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* 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! :) 

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.

Meanwhile, at Barnes & Noble…Columbus Day sale

October 8, 2016

Meanwhile, at Barnes & Noble…Columbus Day sale

Sure, some of you may be wondering if Barnes & Noble is really still a competitor with Amazon, but when you think about it…isn’t everybody?😉

Well, they are pretty much the last of the dinostores (the large chain bookstores where the main attraction was the number of books they carried…the B. Daltons, WaldenBooks, Borders…), if you don’t consider Books-A-Million in the same group (and I don’t…and I’m a former  brick-and-mortar bookstore manager). They also still have an e-bookstore. Perhaps significantly for my readers, they can still impact Amazon through its price-matching policies.

In this

press release

they announce a “Huge Columbus Day Weekend Savings In-Store and Online, October 8-10”.

Hm…as I look at their listing more carefully, I don’t know that’s going to help Kindleers that much. The discounts for books seem to be mostly in-store, and I don’t think Amazon is matching that.

  • 50% off “Must Reads”…but in-store only
  • 30% off the Maze Runner series…in-store only
  • Buy one, get one half off in-store and online…but that’s on coloring books
  • Buy Where the Sidewalk Ends and get collectible editions of some things for $5…but they are B&N exclusives

The rest of the discounts aren’t on books, which seem to me like they are becoming a smaller part of the B&N business.

Barnes & Noble is also having a sale for Pre-K-12 teachers and administrators for October 8-16th:

press release

This is the relevant part:

  • 25% discount on personal and classroom books, toys, games, music, movies and more;
  • 10% off the list price of select NOOK devices;
  • 10% discount on all Café consumable purchases;
  • Other local giveaways, such as gift cards, books, posters, educator guides, sticker sheets, activity kits, tote bags and more.

You can get the eligibility form and shop online at

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/h/bn-educators

If you want to see what Kindle books are on sale, you can check here:

USA Kindle store deals on Kindle books (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Do you have what it takes to be a Timeblazer?

* 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.

Round up #145: sight-reading vs. listening, B&N CEO O-U-T

August 23, 2016

Round up #145: sight-reading vs. listening, B&N CEO O-U-T

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

One Murder More reportedly wins three Silver Falchion awards!

I’m waiting for

Killer Nashville

to post the official results before I do a full post (and celebration), but I thought some of you would be curious: my sibling’s first novel, One Murder More (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*), won three Silver Falchion awards this past weekend! That’s amazing, and puts Kris in good company, including Anne Perry, John Sandford, Dean Koontz, and Sue Grafton.

More to come…

Barnes & Noble loses CEO

In this

press release

Barnes & Nobles announced the “departure” of its Chief Executive Officer, Ronald D. Boire (after not quite a year in the post).

This is being reported both as Boire being fired, and as Boire “stepping down”…but regardless, this is a negative for the Big 5 traditional publishers (who are still reliant on brick and mortar bookstores…I’m a former manager of one). Nobody who is already established in business likes uncertainty, and this is B&N’s third CEO recently.

The press release says that the Board determined Boire wasn’t “a good fit”…and that’s the Board’s fault.

One of my proudest things after I became the training manager at a franchise (where I think we had five owners in seven years…something like that) was that I lengthened the average longevity of my team significantly. When I was hired there, I was told there was a ninety-day “ramp up” period. I asked how many people didn’t get through that period, and I was told two out of three! Sure enough, I was hired with two other people, and I was the only person still there after three months.

That’s just…inefficient hiring, in my opinion.

I’ve hired a lot of people over the years, and I think I’m pretty good at it.

After I was the Training Manager for a year, the average longevity went from under three months to over a years, as I recall…basically, nobody left. Yes, I hired people during that year, but not that many because turnover was low. If I hired them, they stayed.

If the Board hired somebody who wasn’t a good fit, that’s likely to be mostly their fault.

This is odd timing, because we are heading into the most important time of the year…the last three months of the year, in a retail business like this, can easily be 90% of the year’s sales.

Maybe if Boire had made it a full year, the departure would have cost them more?

Replacing the CEO at the end of August is a little bit like replacing your pilot while your plane is at the gate readying for takeoff.😉

However, Leonard Riggio, who was going to retire in a few weeks (Riggio has been a driving force at B&N since buying the company forty-five years ago) is going to take the helm for now.

The publishers may see that as a good thing…they understand Riggio, even if the leadership is only temporary and therefore limited in determining the strategic direction.

I thought this

RetailDive post by Corinne Ruff

had intelligent insight.

B&N has had some good signs recently…none of them said “Books for Sale in Our Stores”, though.😉 The strategy has been to move the stores more into other things (especially the cafes), cut back on the NOOK even more, and try to remake the online presence. Those strategies aren’t likely to change.

MarketWatch: physical bookstores rebounding

In this

MarketWatch article by Trey Williams

they report a clear rebound for brick-and-mortar bookstores in the USA, continuing last year’s reversal of a downward trend which had been in place since 2009. I’m not sure I agree with Whitney Hu of

The Strand Bookstore in New York

a marvelous institution. Hu says in part:

“The recent growth in sales is a result of the waning novelty of e-readers, such as Amazon.com Inc.’s Kindle…”

On the other hand, Hu is more likely to be right than another authority they quote…Ronald D. Boire, the aforementioned outgoing CEO of Barnes & Noble.😉

Are audiobooks cheating?

Regular readers know I listen to text-to-speech (software which reads books out loud to you) a lot. It’s typically hours a week in the car. I sight read every day, too…on my now discontinued Kindle Fire HDX (that’s what does the text-to-speech in the car for me), on a

All-New Kindle Paperwhite, 6″ High-Resolution Display (300 ppi) with Built-in Light, Wi-Fi – Includes Special Offers (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

and a

Kindle Voyage (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

depending on where I am in the house (I also read different books in different parts of the house…I’ve always done that).

I will admit, though,  that there has been a slight, nagging thought: is listening to the book somehow “inferior” to sight-reading it?

Turns out, I wasn’t the only one with that thought.🙂

This

CNN post by Melissa Dahl

resonated with me…it was the same question.

Fortunately, Dahl was referencing this

blog post by Daniel Willingham

The bio states that Willingham is a Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia.

Willingham addresses the idea of whether or not listening to an audiobook is “cheating”.

I was actually hoping for an fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) study showing that what the brain was doing was similar during sight-reading and listening, but the post isn’t that.

It’s talking more about the process, and how it will “mostly” be the same (although there may be an advantage when reading more complex material to sight-reading it, an adult reading a typical novel should be pretty much the same).

It was interesting to me that the article was at least partly what I would consider to be philosophical…questioning the value of defining reading as “work”, something to be more rewarded when you put something more into it.

I do think some “literati” have that attitude: if a book was harder to read, it was better for you and more worthwhile.

I don’t buy that myself.

I think there is value in reading a “popcorn book”, one which reads with little effort. People used to (and some still do) call them “page turners”, although “button masher” became the digital equivalent for a short time (when was they last time you used buttons to “turn the page” on an e-book reader?).

In fact, and maybe I am a bit of a lazy reader in this regard, I tend not to like very “dense” epics…I describe them as when the sentence is better than the paragraph, the paragraph is better than the page, the page is better than the chapter, and the chapter is better than the book.😉

You know the type…I would put The Worm Ouroborus by E.R. Eddison into that category.

Still, it’s nice to know that a professor of psychology has the opinion that listening to an audiobook isn’t cheating.🙂 I intend to comment on the blog post (if the requirements to do so are not overly restrictive) to ask about text-to-speech versus audiobooks…I suspect that the TTS cognitive processing is much more similar to sight-reading than audiobooks are. I’d be interested to hear what the professor thinks about that…and about the fact that I generally don’t experience prosody (hearing voices when you read).🙂

What do you think? Have you thought of listening to books as “cheating”? Will Barnes & Noble continue to have physical bookselling in dedicated brick-and-mortar stores as a major component of their business? If they don’t, what does that mean for tradpubs? Why do you think brick-and-mortar bookstores have been rebounding? Is it because of a decline in e-book use…or maybe it’s coloring books?😉 Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Do you have what it takes to be a Timeblazer?

* 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.

Barnes & Noble financials: NOOK sales continue to tank, so the stock…

June 24, 2016

Barnes & Noble financials: NOOK sales continue to tank, so the stock…

I freely say that I’m no expert on stocks. How the investors react to financials is often a mystery to me.

I can humbly say that I have more expertise on bookstores and book sales. I’m the former manager of a brick-and-mortar bookstore, and I’ve been covering the world of e-books in this blog for close to seven years, averaging more than a post a day and more than 1,000 words a post, I believe.

Barnes & Noble, the largest remaining physical bookstore chain in the USA, reported their financials for the fiscal year:

press release

None of it was a reason to celebrate, and the NOOK sales (both devices and content) continued their freefall…dropping 27.4% year over year. The press release helpfully explains that it is due “…primarily to lower device and content sales.”

Yep.

Now, that doesn’t automatically mean that Amazon is crushing them. I think that in devices, the NOOK is simply an anchor for them right now. Amazon’s devices continue to sell well, from what we can see. My intuition is that Kobo is doing reasonably well. People are reading on phones and tablets, and  I suspect that audiobooks and text-to-speech use is going to spike  in the next few years, with them becoming one of the colors in people’s audio palette. People who rarely sight read books may listen to books more, increasing their exposure to literature.

In terms of NOOK content: that is largely traditional published e-books, and that part of the market is likely dropping over all. A much larger part of Amazon’s e-book sales than NOOK book sales comes from indies (independent publishers…often just the author) and from the company’s own publishing.

However, if NOOK hardware becomes largely a legacy thing (no new development), that will drag down NOOK book sales, even though you can read them on other devices. Serious readers are likely to want the option for an EBR (E-Book Reader)…I think Amazon’s newer version of its least expensive model, which has Bluetooth so you can listen to audio, is going to do quite well. I wrote about it yesterday:

New Kindle EBR with text-to-speech via Bluetooth!

Without that option for NOOK books, and since you can’t read NOOK books on a Kindle EBR, that’s going to be a problem.

Overall, the B&N bookstores, not counting the impact of the NOOK on them, actually slightly increased.

Barnes & Noble stock, as you can see in this

Money/CNN graph

dropped on the 22nd, the day of the announcement, but more than recovered on the 23rd.

Just about everything will drop today, because of reaction to the Brexit (British Exit from the European Union) referendum vote. The UK voted to leave the EU. This will have a big impact, at least in the short term.

Amazon, by the way, is a much more international company than Barnes & Noble, and is therefore safer when any market is affected…I would say, honestly, even when all markets are affected.  It’s a bit like having a robust gene  pool versus a narrow one. Purebred dogs tend to have more and more serious health problems than those with a robust background.

I know I have NOOK users amongst my readers. My guess is that your prior purchases will continue to be available to you…that someone will buy and service the accounts if B&N were to stop doing NOOKs and NOOK books. I think the NOOK hardware is nearly dead. B&N as a company can survive, although they will become decreasingly focused on books…we already see them looking more intently at food and beverage sales, and they do toys, games, shirts, that sort of thing.

How does this affect publishing overall?

One key change is that publishers are decreasingly getting pre-sale money. With an e-book, the publisher does not get paid until the book is purchased…and it’s often some time after that. With a p-book (paperbook), we would pay them for the books before we sold them. If they didn’t sell, we could generally return them for future purchase credit.

That’s  a very different economic model, and it will create a different strategy.

If you knew you had a blockbuster bestseller coming, like the new Harry Potter book, you could count on using the money from that to invest in prestige books which would have a smaller market. Pre-sales means that the money comes in over a longer period of time…it has the sales period, plus the pre-sales period.

With e-books, by the way, when you pre-order them Amazon and the publisher don’t get the money until the book is sent to you…not on the day you order it.

Paper publishers will become more risk averse. They will do fewer prestige books, try fewer new authors…unless the latter prove they have a market through independent publishing first.

On the other hand, that will increase indie publishing of new author and prestige books, with less competition.

One remedy to the loss of pre-sales from brick-and-mortar sales can be crowdfunding. While some crowdfunding waits to  collect the money until the product is released, much of it is intended to create development capital.

I’ve had great times in brick-and-mortar Barnes & Noble bookstores (although I didn’t get good customer service online). I love bookstores: I used to spend at least five days a week in one.😉 I have to say, though, that even though I love books more than I love bookstores, I think the bookstore experience is not at risk. I think indie bookstores, and destination/experience stores, can do very well in the next five years.

What do you think? Will B&N survive? If so, how much will paperbooks play into their strategy? How does Brexit affect publishing and what we read? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* 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.

 

 

Meanwhile, at Barnes & Noble: NOOK books out of UK, financials are “in the groove” (of vinyl records)

March 4, 2016

Meanwhile, at Barnes & Noble: NOOK books out of UK, financials are “in the groove” (of vinyl records)

NOOK Bookstore is no more for the UK

I have readers in the UK (and in many other countries…hello, world!) and I have readers who use NOOKs (B&N has been inconsistent with the capitalization).

That’s one reason I wanted to share this

BBC Technology post

However, it’s also instructive for e-book users everywhere.

According to the post, Barnes & Noble is discontinuing their NOOK E-book store in the UK on March 15th …(there is something about that date…the Ides of March and all. “Et tu, B&N?”).

You won’t be able to buy NOOK books in the UK through the website, the Android app, or on your NOOK devices.

Before the end of May, you’ll have to follow instructions to migrate the books on your account for which you have already paid in order to be able to keep them.

Migrate them where?

B&N is working with supermarket Sainsbury’s.

That’s the instructive part.

I’ve said many times that I think the odds are higher that my descendants will have access to my Kindle store books than to my roughly 10,000 p-books (paperbooks).

I’ve been asked, when I say that, what happens if Amazon goes under?

I find that a pretty unlikely scenario. I like their corporate philosophy of Price, Discount, Service, and I think they are making some growth-oriented (and sustainability-oriented) moves generally.

If they did, though, I’ve suggested that someone else would buy our accounts. They would be very valuable. That doesn’t mean that everything would be the same…we might start paying for storage, for example.

This case, though, does appear to illustrate that.

I don’t expect Sainsbury’s to start selling e-books, although they might, and they might partner with somebody.

If they don’t, how do they make the money to pay for storing and managing the books?

Ads, perhaps? An annual fee? Not sure…

“Books? Oh, yeah, I think we still have some…”

Speaking of Barnes & Noble, they just had 3rd quarter financial results reported.

press release

It wasn’t good, but it was less bad in some areas.

So, do literature lovers have reason to cheer the nation’s largest bookstore?

Well, if you count coloring books…😉

As was made clear in this

New York Times post by Alexandra Alter

B&N’s loss offsetting gains came in things like toys and games…and vinyl records.

Are they on their way to becoming a booklessstore?😉

The post goes on to talk about the relative strength in independent bookstores. I agree with that. Barnes & Noble has been contracting. Indie bookstores have been growing.

The article also says, “The company’s results come at a time when bookstores may be making a comeback and e-books, which have been perceived as print killers, are losing popularity.”

That second statement is one I would like to see defended…and not by the stats they quote from the Association of American Publishers.

My guess is that more e-books are being  sold…it’s just that AAP-reporting publishers may have a diminishing percentage of that market.

Indie publishers, and Amazon’s traditional publishing, may be growing rapidly enough to reduce the tradpubs (traditional publishers) share.

I also wanted to note that Barnes & Noble lost a lot less on the NOOK this time…but I think that’s not because the NOOK is rebounding, but because it is getting towards the bottom of bleeding out. The less you have, the less you have to lose. Let’s say that you have 100 units of something. It falls off 50%, so you’ve lost 50 units…that sounds terrible. If you continue to lose 50% a year, it only takes three more years before your loss is less than ten units a year (100 to 50 to 25 to 12.5 to 6). So, you could report, by counting your losses (not the percentage), that your loss rate in the last year (you lost 6) is much better than that first year when you lost 50…you only had 12% of the loss. It doesn’t change the trend, though.

Will B&N drop NOOK books in the USA?

I don’t see that happening right away…when they came into the USA, the market was more fluid than it was when they came into the UK. That enabled the NOOK to gain a stronger market share in the USA than in the UK.

If they do make that decision, though, I do think someone would be likely to buy the accounts (Kobo might be a suitor, but it also might be just an investment group of some kind).

Is the loss of the NOOK books in the UK good or bad for Kindle owners?

I think it’s bad…I like competition, it tends to drive innovation.

Not terrible, and not surprising, but I don’t think it’s a benefit.

I expect B&N to stick around, but with fewer books in them until they become like vinyl records…

What do you think? What’s the future of B&N in the USA? Do you worry about what could happen with your Kindle books in the future? How does the presence of NOOK books in the USA affect Kindle owners? Feel free to tell me and my readers by commenting on this post.

Update to a post from yesterday: my new post comparing the five (counting the Fire TV and Fire TV Stick separately) Amazon Alexa devices…

Echo, Dot, Tap, or Fire TV? Which Amazon Alexa device is right for you?

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

*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! :) 

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.

EBRs beyond Amazon: January 2016

January 23, 2016

EBRs beyond Amazon: January 2016

When the Amazon Kindle was first introduced in November of 2007, there were already more than ten devices dedicated to reading e-books in the US market…it’s just that none of them were doing much here.🙂 Even Sony, which was a powerhouse in the consumer electronics market, had them…and that included with a non-backlit screen.

Amazon revolutionized the market with their $400 device…having an E Ink screen was important, but there were really two other things which moved it from a techie, niche device to a more mainstream one (at least among readers).

One was the ability to wirelessly download books. Having to cable your device to a computer to get a book was a considerable hurdle to many people.

The other one was…that it was Amazon.🙂 Now, there was intense skepticism among tech writers that Amazon could successfully introduced hardware, but there wasn’t any skepticism among readers that Amazon could sell them books.

Before the Kindle, the e-book market was techies.

With the Kindle, the e-book market was readers.

Over time, I’ve written about a number of non-Amazon devices…and they aren’t all still around.

I leave the links on the website, even though some of them don’t go anywhere, partially to preserve the list historically. For those of you using screen readers, and even those without, I know it can be difficult to click on a broken link. I’ll go through and re-label those or do something with them to explain the situation.

Here are the links (again, some of these may not go anywhere):

So, in the USA, for non-backlit EBRs (which is part of how I define an EBR now), it’s largely the Kindle, the nook, and the Kobos.

Part of that may be that people have transitioned reading e-books to tablets…you can get a tablet cheaper than an EBR, and have color, text-to-speech, audiobooks, and animation (for enhanced e-books). The sight-reading experience for me is better on a non-backlit device (I usually read on two different ones a day), but because of text-to-speech, I’d say most of my reading is on my now discontinued Kindle Fire HDX. That’s not just because of using TTS…since that’s my device that does TTS and I usually use that for hours every weekday, it’s the device I carry with me. When I do sight-read at work, it’s on my Kindle Fire.

Okay, let’s take a look at what is available currently (not used or refurbished) from those three companies.

Amazon

I read on a Paperwhite and a Voyage (two different rooms), and like them both.

The basic Kindle above doesn’t have a light.

The Voyage has a different way to change pages than the Paperwhite.

We may get a new model or more from Amazon this year…I’ve predicted they’ll do a “waterproof” one.

Kobo

  • Kobo Touch 2.0 $89.99
  • Kobo Glo HD $129.99
  • Kobo Aura H20 $189.99

Kobos are seen as being quality devices, and I would consider them perhaps the strongest competitor (going into the future) for the Kindle.

Their Touch is $10 more than the basic Kindle (which also has touch), and the Glo is $10 more than the Paperwhite.

The H20, though, is $10 less than the Voyage…and it is “waterproof”.

Also, those prices are compared to the lowest Kindle prices…and some people don’t want to see ads on their devices in order to get them initially at a discount. If you don’t want the ads, the Kobos are cheaper.

nook

  • NOOK (they have been inconsistent on capitalization) GlowLight Plus $129.99

Frontlit, touchscreen, waterproof, and it does DRM ePUB (Digital Rights Management protected) which the Kindles don’t.

So, what would I recommend?

First, I wouldn’t go with the nook, unless you are already heavily invested in nook books. I just don’t think you can count on the company’s future, especially with regard to EBRs. The company name might be around for a long time, and the nook name may be on tablets, but I think it’s a risk. Also, right from the beginning, the customer service for the devices has been markedly superior (both in execution and policies) for the Kindle over the nook. If you already have nooks and want to stay with this, this is a good model with some nice features.

The Kobos are, from what I understand (I’ve never owned one), good devices and their owners like them. I think Kobo is a much more stable company than Barnes & Noble (looking at EBRs for the latter for sure). I don’t think this is a bad choice, but…

I’d go with the Kindles. Again, Amazon’s Customer Service is great on these, and they fit pretty nicely into the Amazon ecosystem, which you may be using for other things. I also like them as devices.🙂 For most people, I would go with the Paperwhite. Having the light (it’s a frontlight, not a backlight) is really worth it over the least expensive model. The Voyage is a bit nicer, and there’s nothing wrong with going for that. Again, for most people, though, I think they’ll see the Paperwhite as a better value.

If I look at this again two years from now, I’m not convinced we’ll have the nook (it should survive this holiday season, but might be eliminated in 2017), but I do think we’ll have the Kindles and the Kobos. I don’t see somebody else getting into the market right at this point, although that might happen if reflective screen technology gets a lot cheaper. We may also still see some sort of “dualume” screens, that have both reflective and backlit screens, or reflective screens may add color and/or animation as their technology improves.

What do you think? Did/do you own a non-Kindle EBR? How do you feel about it? Have I left off an EBR in the USA? Am I underestimating Barnes & Noble’s future involvement with EBRs? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

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! :) 

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.

Meanwhile, at Barnes & Noble: Q2 financials…not looking good for NOOK books

December 4, 2015

Meanwhile, at Barnes & Noble: Q2 financials…not looking good for NOOK books

Should we still care what happens at Barnes & Noble?

Yes.

Competition from the NOOK has apparently driven some interesting improvements in Amazon devices over the years (there was a frontlit NOOK before the Paperwhite, for example), features for e-books (B&N had lending first),  Amazon’s price matching them on e-books, and Amazon has followed B&N in dropping the price on hardware.

I think that influence has considerably weakened, though, and may continue to do so.

The NOOK has been tanking, and for a while, I thought that NOOK Books might continue online after the NOOK hardware ceased to be a brand (B&N doesn’t make the tablets any more, but there is a NOOK name).

However, this

press release

makes me more pessimistic about the NOOK Books.

Specifically, there is this, which I will briefly excerpt:

“NOOK sales of $43.5 million decreased 31.9% due primarily to lower content sales.”

Not primarily due to hardware, but to content.

Content for the NOOK is more than just e-books (there are apps, for one), but I was a bit surprised to see that.

Comparable store sales, excluding the NOOK drag, were pretty steady…only down .5%.

That doesn’t mean that p-books (paperbooks) are going to save e-books, though. They mentioned lower online sales…and increase in wages in the stores.

As a former manager of a brick-and-mortar bookstore, I’ve mentioned before, you are fighting three things primarily: rent; wages; and “shrinkage” (shoplifting, employee theft, and damage).

Those are your challenges…but you also have to be a place (nowadays) where people are willing to pay more money than they would pay online to support you.

It doesn’t look like Barnes & Noble is doing that successfully, at least as far as books are concerned.

Toys are going well for them.🙂 That is, looking at 2015 growth versus 2014 levels.

A reader sent me a link to this

Seeking Alpha post by Lutz Muller

in a private e-mail. It’s called “Barnes & Noble’s Problems Are Self-Inflicted”, and that’s the basic premise, supported by interesting charts.

The thrust is that B&N is doing worse than the print book business generally.

While the article does start out with what I would consider a debatable statement (“Barnes & Noble (NYSE:BKS) is the only remaining brick-and-mortar mass retailer of books…”) with which I would think Books-A-Million would disagree, I agree with most of what it says.

Check out the first chart in particular, showing the relative rise in what appears to be online sales of p-books perhaps combined with e-books, and brick-and-mortar bookstores.

To be clear, I think bookstores can survive and thrive in the coming decade.

They need to have personality and they need to be a destination shopping experience.

Unfortunately, I don’t think Barnes & Noble at this point is that.

I also managed a brick-and-mortar game store, and my sense is that B&N’s toy/game sales are benefiting by being in a bookstore. I think it gives them a patina of respectability for some people that going to a Toys R Us might not have.

If B&N was just a toy/game store, I’m not convinced they’d survive…they’d be battling Costco, Walmart, Toys R Us, and, importantly, the online retailers…like Amazon.

When I managed a gamestore, we would give you a hands-on experience. We knew the games (we had game nights for the employees), and we’d open a box to show it to you, if you wanted. We did have a shrink wrap machine in the back, so if everything was still good, we could shrink wrap it again.

That wasn’t my idea (I wasn’t the owner, I was a manager), but I certainly had the authority to take something out of stock rather than shrink wrap it again, if I thought it wasn’t as good as new.

I thought that store was a good shopping experience…and customers generally liked shopping there. There were several branches, including one in the Embarcadero in San Francisco (that one was mine). We did a lot of business with German tourists, who were buying role-playing game elements not yet released in Germany.

That was only a small part of what we sold…we also sold boardgames, chess sets, Go, Mah Jongg, darts (a small, but intricate part of the selection), and more.

We did some radio advertising (I was in a commercial).

We had media coverage of an event I designed, the Great Game Race.

If it had been a bookstore? It could make it, with proper management…maybe not in the Embarcadero, though.😉

Back to B&N…

I don’t claim to be good at predicting what will happen to stock, but I think this is not good for B&N tomorrow. Some people might go bargain shopping after a drop, but honestly, I wouldn’t be investing in it.

Amazon will still have challengers…remember how entrenched the big  publishers were before e-books. Amazon has an increasing amount of the infrastructure of the internet, but would it be harder to  disrupt them than it was to disrupt the near totality of the big publishers in the brick-and-mortar bookstores?

Again, I would say yes.🙂

Amazon is a lot more flexible.

It’s more of an idea (several ideas, actually) than one existing process.

I think they can swivel in a way that the big publishers and brick-and-mortar stores couldn’t.

Barnes & Noble has tried some things…I don’t know that they are the right things, but they did make an effort.

What do you think? Was Barnes & Noble a victim of circumstances, or was it their inherent vulnerabilities? Will they survive? If so, in what form? How does all this affect Amazon…and us as readers? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

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! :) 

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.

Barnes & Noble introduces a new NOOK EBR

October 21, 2015

Barnes & Noble introduces a new NOOK EBR

Today is

Back to the Future Day (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

but I feel like I’m going back in time writing about a significant new NOOK model of EBR (E-Book Reader…not a backlit tablet).😉

I think the last one was just about two years ago.

This one, the NOOK Glowlight Plus, is really an improvement.

It’s now “waterproof and dust proof”.

Kobo has a waterproof model…and Amazon doesn’t.

Now, I don’t think that’s enough to get anybody to switch from Amazon to B&N, and I’d be surprised if there is a huge market for first time EBR buyers at this point.

This one is $129.99…remember that it is competing for first time e-book customers with tablets, like the

Fire, 7″ Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB – Includes Special Offers, Black (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

which is only $49.99…38% the price of the NOOK Glowlight Plus. Buy a six-pack of Fire 7s, and get them for less than a third the cost of the NOOK Glowlight Plus.

If you weren’t sure if you’d like e-books, my guess is that you would start with a multi-function device at a third of the cost. It wouldn’t actually be a great comparison to an EBR, but how would you know?

How does this compare to the

All-New Kindle Paperwhite, 6″ High-Resolution Display (300 ppi) with Built-in Light, Wi-Fi – Includes Special Offers (at AmazonSmile*)

?

Well, the PW3 is on a special sale for $99.99…but it’s normally $119.99 for an ad-supported model, $139.99 without the discount for seeing ads on the lockscreen. It makes the price comparable…$10 cheaper with ad-support, $10 more without them.

Let me link to information on the NOOK before I go ahead:

press release

Official Site

User Guide

Tech Specs

  • The dots per inch (you can think of that as a good measure of image quality) is the same: 300 dpi.
  • The NGL+ has 2.5 GB of memory available for “NOOK Store content and side-loaded content (out of a total 4GB). The Paperwhite 3 has 4GB…but it doesn’t say how much is required for the system
  • The NGL+ is 6.4″ by 4.7″ by .34″ (thickness) and weighs 6.9 ounces. The PW3 is 6.7″ x 4.6″ x 0.36″ (169 mm x 117 mm x 9.1 mm) (so, a bit longer and thicker, and a tad narrower) and 7.2 ounces for wi-fi only (7.6 for wi-fi and 3G…you need more hardware): this goes to the NGP+
  • Both use a micro-USB connector for charging and connecting to a computer
  • Both have wi-fi 802.11 b/g/n. The NOOK says it has “a” as well. The Paperwhite also says it has “…support for WEP, WPA and WPA2 security using password authentication or Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS)”
  • The NGL+ says it can read ePub and PDF, and show the following graphics: JPG, GIF, PNG, and BMP. The PW3 says “Kindle Format 8 (AZW3), Kindle (AZW), TXT, PDF, unprotected MOBI, PRC natively; HTML, DOC, DOCX, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP through conversion”
  • The NOOK claims to have a built-in anti-glare screen protector

Overall, I’d say they are comparable technically. People will be attracted by the waterproof claims…no more Ziploc bag at the beach or in the bathtub!

Barnes & Noble also gives you some free content (in addition to a $5 credit): “Content bundle includes three (3) free NOOK Books from a choice of 25 and three (3) free NOOK Magazine or NOOK Newspaper single issues from a choice of 25.”

To be very clear, I’m not suggesting it makes more sense to get this than the Kindle. Amazon has a lot of things going on for it on the software and features side, that B&N just doesn’t have. Customer Service in B&N physical stores was generally good for me, but I’ve had…less than optimal service from the online parts of it.

If you are already committed to the NOOK, though, and are looking for an upgrade or to add another device to your collection, this is a good bet.

Does this mean that Amazon will develop a waterproof Kindle EBR?

I honestly don’t think Amazon is feeling much pressure from other EBR manufacturers at this point.

After all, the Kobo Aura H20, a waterproof model was introduced last year.

That’s not to say that competition doesn’t matter at all…I’m just guessing that as far as the state of the EBR market, there isn’t a lot of direct comparison of different brands going on with consumers any more. The “stickiness” of SmartPhone brands is, no doubt, quite large. Not many iPhone users would cavalierly switch to an Android phone…or vice versa.

I think that’s even stronger with EBR users.

You can’t use an app designed for an iPhone on an Android device, and that affects your library. However, it’s generally far easier to migrate to the other version of app than it is with e-books. An app might cost ninety-nine cents where an e-book might cost $9.99. It just makes it harder to switch over.

Sure, you could read your Kindle books in a free Kindle reading app…but you don’t install apps like that on an EBR. A tablet is a different story, and I do think people are more flexible on brands there.

Amazon may even have a waterproof Kindle in the works…maybe even for introduction for this holiday season. I just don’t think they are going to see the press release about the NOOK GlowLight Plus and suddenly say, “Gee, folks, we’d better get cracking on something similar.”😉

What do you think? Were you surprised that Barnes & Noble introduced a new EBR? Do you think that three years from now, Barnes & Noble will be a viable competitor in the e-book world? Would waterproof be an important quality for you in an EBR? Are you now or have you been in the past a NOOK user? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* 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.

Round up #307: B&N stock drops, Siri can run your Apple TV

September 10, 2015

Round up #307:  B&N stock drops, Siri can run your Apple TV

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

 

Amazon expands Kindle Scout worldwide

Amazon sent me this

press release

which announces that the

Kindle Scout program

is expanding to other geographical territories. Amazon says it’s “…Europe, Canada,Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Mexico, Brazil, Japan, India and more”.

Authors submit never before published novels.

Readers read excerpts, and recommend which ones get traditionally published by Amazon. You can have up to three nominations at a time.

If one of your current nominations gets published, you get a free copy.

That’s all good for customers.

I also think it’s a good deal for authors.

Has it been successful?

Amazon says, “Kindle Press books have an average Amazon Customer Review of 4.48 stars across 2,709 reviews.”

That sounds pretty good!

For more insight on the program, see

An ILMK interview with The Behrg, author of the Kindle Scout winner Housebroken

Apple TV adds Siri…come on, Alexa!

The Apple announcement today had several interesting things, but the one that most impressed me was the voice control of Apple TV with Siri. I’ve seen it said that it’s not that big deal, it’s similar to what already exists in Voice Search in

Amazon Fire TV (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

It seems quite different to me: it doesn’t only find things (and in much more natural language than Fire TV’s current search), it actually does things…it’s voice control, not just voice search.

I’ve been saying I expect Alexa control of the Fire TV this year.

Well, here’s something interesting:

The Fire TV (linked above) is “currently unavailable”.

Will they release a new version with integrated Alexa, the voice service currently only available on

Amazon Echo (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

?

If they do, will there be a downloadable app (or simply an update) for current Fire TVs?

I suspect the answer is likely to be both…but I certainly expect the capability to arrive…and likely to be announced before the end of this month.

The good news for Barnes & Noble…they sold more toys…

Barnes & Noble announced financials…and it wasn’t good, and many investors dumped the stock.

Here is the

Seeking Alpha transcript of the call

and here is Barnes & Nobles’

press release

In terms of the NOOK and NOOK books…well, it continues to be bad. B&N says

“…NOOK sales decreased 22.4% to 54 million for the quarter. Digital content sales declined 28% to 37 million on lower unit volume…”

Close to a quarter of sales is bad, period.

Core comparable bookstore sales (that excludes NOOKs and such) did rise 1%, but that wasn’t enough to stop a more than 25% loss in the stock’s value.

Bottom line…it just doesn’t look good for B&N.

What do you think? Is B&N doomed? If it survives, what will it look like? Would you want voice controls for e-reading (“Open Alice in Wonderland”, “Open something funny…)? What stood out to in the announcement from Apple? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.

Thanks to regular reader Joe Bower for a comment which improved this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* 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! :) 

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.

Barnes & Noble’s financials for fiscal year 2015

June 27, 2015

Barnes & Noble’s financials for fiscal year 2015

Barnes & Noble just had a financial year end on May 2nd, and they have released the numbers.

There are some interesting indicators here, although I don’t claim to be an expert at this stuff.

Oh, that doesn’t mean that they were growing…overall, consolidated revenue year over year was down 4.9%.

However…

I think they may be making some smart moves.

I’m a former brick-and-mortar bookstore manager, and I have said all along that physical bookstores can survive, and some of them can thrive.

It’s pretty simple.

They can’t beat online in selection…you’d have to have a giant “back room”, and that would cost too much in rent (one of three major factors you are fighting: rent;  salaries; and “shrinkage”, which is shoplifting, employee theft, and damage).

They can’t beat online in price…the overhead is much higher in a physical store…and it keeps getting higher.

So, what’s left?

Service and the shopping experience.

People have to want to knowingly pay more for your books, because they like you.

B&N is, for the second year, doing a “Get Pop-Cultured” event throughout July.

It mostly celebrates geeky things: Star Wars, time travel (including Doctor Who and Outlander), and manga. I thought it was more appropriate to cover it in one of my other blogs, so you can see more details here:

Geek out in July at Barnes & Noble

As a proud geek and with that bookstore manager experience, I can tell you: it looks to like they’ve put together some great IRL (In Real Life) events! People who go to them probably won’t want that branch to close.

Now, those aren’t really tied into books, although there are books for all of those. They aren’t pretending that those days are about books. During the call, Mike Huseby, the CEO (Chief Executive Officer) said as reported in this

financial call transcript from Seeking Alpha

“Beyond books, our toys and games and gift merchants continue to curate and impressive selection of products that appeal to our customer base as reflected in the growth of these departments, which continue to outperform other categories. Toys and games in particular grew 16% on top of the 12% increase of a year ago.”

That’s clearly part of their future. The margin on those physical items is much higher, and there can be a very different experience in buying a game or toy in person (I also used to manage a game store).

That doesn’t mean that they’ve abandoned books, even if their regular bookstore core sales did drop a bit.

One of the events, on July 13th, will feature readings of all of

To Kill a Mockingbird (at AmazonSmile)

They say

“The read-a-thon will feature a variety of special guest readers, including authors and local celebrities…”

Note that it is  “local celebrities”…that’s important, and part of the formula for success. Here in the Bay Area, it wouldn’t surprise me if one or more of the Golden State Warriors get involved, for example.

The next day will see the release of what will be one of the big books of the year

Go Set a Watchman (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

the first time published related novel to TKaM.

Okay, the obvious question for this blog: what about the NOOK?

It was terrible.

Device and accessory sales were down fully two-thirds for the year: 66.7%.

Digital content sales dropped more slowly, which makes sense…down 27.8% for the year.

Why does it make sense?

Even though people are largely away from buying NOOK devices, people who still have them continue to buy books for them.

As the devices fail over the next five years or so (or get lost/stolen or become severely outdated), those e-book sales and others will also decline.

Personally, I don’t expect NOOK hardware to come back strong. The e-books might find a market on other devices and other delivery systems.

The college bookstore sales (excluding new branches) were up 0.1% for the year…but  Amazon has started into that market, so that’s dicey at best.

You can read the

press release

for more details.

My guess? The NOOK disappears eventually, B&N stores stick around but morph into being less about books and more about other merchandise and events. That may be a threat to comic book stores…

In this

CNN Money chart

investors seem unimpressed…the stock was down 2.98% over the past five days.

What do you think? Will B&N survive as a brick-and-mortar? Can they transform into a Big Bang Theory friendly business…and should they? Will books continue to be part of their brick-and-mortar business…in a way bigger than they are in your typical comic book store? Will you go to their events (maybe James Patterson day on the 26th)? Whither the NOOK? Are you over B&N or would you be sorry to see them go? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

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! :) 

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.


%d bloggers like this: