A Kodak Moment for Books
I feel sorry for Barnes & Noble, the last man standing in the big box print retail business. They are having their Kodak moment. They are flailing in the water next to the ship that is rapidly sinking, but they can't let go of the gunnel. "If we can just arrange the deck chairs once more, everything will be all right...."
In the last year or two B&N has tried taking out large chunks of their inventory and reducing shelf space. They have built up their game section and have tried white label presses for old and non-mainstream books. They have reprinted old classics in hardcover, like Poe, at huge prices, and printed hardcovers with cheap graphics on the cover and no dust jackets. The stores added new sections: like "teen" to traditional fiction and mysteries, and put small nook ereader displays in and then made them much larger, and so on and so on. But never have they relaxed their white knuckled grip on print books and large anchor stores, at least in Northern California where I live.
I walked through the local B&N in Silicon Valley on Saturday and looked at the new titles. I photographed a few with the smart phone to look up later to see what was being said about them and what they were about. The Nook section at the very front this store is larger all the time and there are always a few people in it. The usual old people were sleeping in the soft chairs and there were a couple of people buying things. There were more laptops in the attached Starbucks than people in the bookstore.
Why is B&N afraid to take on Amazon head-to-head? It would be scary and unknown waters, and they might drown, but they are slowly drowning now. Why not go down fighting? Why not create a phone app to allow shoppers to scan the bar code on a book and get the reviews of it? Why not have the app give a menu of things to check about the book? Why not have another app that allows the shopper to buy an ebook of the book and download it to their Nook while they are shopping, so they can read it when they get home? Why not have the app email the ebook to the shoppers Kindle so they can read the book on their Kindle when they get home? Yes, or email the book to the reader's iPad too. Maybe they could get really aggressive and show the shopper the Amazon and Apple prices and match them for price on the book? After all ebooks now outsell hardcovers, what are they protecting?Continued on the next page