Should Barnes & Noble drop the Nook?

You read this post’s title and thought, “My god, Daven must be joking. How could he even suggest such a thing? Even the most die-hard paper book lovers can’t dispute that e-books are the main-volume product of the future.”

A “future” that is already slipping out of Barnes & Noble’s grasp:

Digital Book World: Barnes & Noble Bookstore Sales, Nook Sales Down Over Holiday Period

Nook Media sales declined 12.6% versus a year ago.

Forbes: Barnes & Noble’s Big Problem — and What to Do About It

– Nook is losing money
– Nook isn’t growing
– Nook is sinking when a rising tide is lifting all other boats

LA Times: Should we be crying for Barnes & Noble?

“You say you are closing a third of your physical bookstores over the next decade, all while admitting they are not unprofitable?” Petri writes. “Please listen to yourself.” Petri says she’s afraid Barnes & Noble will give up brick and mortar bookstore in the name of chasing e-book profits.

Chasing e-book profits would make much more sense if they were making e-book profits. 😈

LA Times: The incredible shrinking Barnes & Noble

Barnes & Noble’s retail stores do sell the Nook, but that’s not what Klipper points to as setting the chain apart. He told the Wall Street Journal that less than 3% of the company’s stores lose money — because they’re a destination for people in a way other retailers aren’t. “You go to Barnes & Noble to forget about your everyday issues, to stay awhile and relax,” he says.

So Barnes & Noble is closing profitable bookstore locations to divert the funds to the money-pit Edsel of e-readers? Not a good business model. We all know what happened when Borders outsourced their .com to Amazon. 😈

The strength of Barnes & Noble is that they are a brick and mortar retailer. Period.
The Atlantic: The Endangered Fate of Barnes & Noble

The same newsletter quotes Daniel Raff, a Wharton management professor, suggesting that the pessimism toward the bookseller may be overstated:
[He says that] Barnes & Noble was resourceful in devoting store space to the Nook and has assets that could be utilized. “When you talk ecosystems, it’s not just the digital stuff. . . . The comfortable majority of publisher profits are physical books, and they need distribution.” Indeed, Barnes & Noble’s biggest asset may be the reality that publishers need shelf space to sell books.” Ultimately, he and other observers have concluded that bundling print books with digital versions may be the next phase of bookselling and that would be a plus for Barnes & Noble.

When it comes to e-readers and digital content, Amazon has eaten B&N’s breakfast, lunch, dinner and they are now licking the last few crumbs of apple pie crust off of B&N’s dessert plate. The problem here is B&N’s myopic view from within:

Digital Book World: Revenues Increase for Nook in Second Quarter Even as Losses Mount

Internally, Barnes & Noble leadership is still optimistic about Nook’s long-term prospects.

“The Nook business will scale in 2013,” said Lynch on the call. Helping it scale will be its partnership with Microsoft, which will pay Nook $50 million a year for the next three years as an advance on profits (read: unless there are profits, it’s financing for Nook).

“We expect our two highly acclaimed new NOOK products, and our Microsoft partnership on Windows 8 to further fuel the growth of our digital business…”

If Windows 8 wasn’t laying a Vista-size turd in the marketplace and handing the tablet market to Apple on a silver platter, I might share a bit of their optimism. Having Microsoft throw money into your money-pit does nothing to solve the fundamental problem, indeed the only real guarantee B&N gets here is “three years of life support” for the Nook.

The most important sentence quoted above: Barnes & Noble’s biggest asset may be the reality that publishers need shelf space to sell books.
A considerable percentage of B&N physical shelf space is being occupied by Nooks.
Did the Kindle win the market via physical shelf space allocation?
No.
In fact, Kindle has much less shelf space now that Target and Wal-Mart have decided to stop selling it, but does anyone think this will be a major factor in Kindle’s future?
No.

Barnes & Noble is a brick & mortar retailer. It’s time for them to act like one. People go to B&N to browse printed books, not Nooks.

The root of the Kindle’s success is its online content environment.
Even if B&N wishes to burn through tons of money trying in vain to compete with Kindle continue to sell Nooks, the Nook belongs online.

For the stores, it’s time to replace the Nook space with book space.

Update 25 February 2013:
Barnes & Noble Chair wants to buy retail business

Barnes & Noble’s founder Leonard Riggio disclosed in a regulatory filing Monday that he wants to acquire the company’s stores and website, but not the business that makes the Nook e-reader or the company’s college bookstores.

N.Y. Times: B&N Vs.Simon & Schuster Dispute Said To Hurt Sales

Update May 2013: Yahoo Finance: Ten Brands That Will Disappear In 2014
(note what brand #2 is) 😈

Update June 2013: Forbes: Barnes & Noble Bows To Apple And Amazon; Exits Tablet Business

Welcome the massive three

Kristen Lamb hits the bulls-eye again:
Big Six Publishing is Dead-Welcome the Massive Three

——————————————————————————————-

Comment #210 by Vampire Syndrome on May 8, 2012 – 8:53 pm

One begins to wonder about a new risk factor in signing with the Big Six. One or two of them might go under or merge in the next few years (to say nothing of the smaller imprints). And they would take the publishing rights of many their authors’ books into limbo with them. Any books with the copyright in the publisher’s name, any contract not including rights of reversion to the author when the book goes out-of-print, any contract with nebulous clauses, etc. etc. Some authors will end up having to buy the rights back to their own books. Others won’t be so lucky…

Tattered Cover Press

If you’re an author living in the Denver area, and are even slightly interested in e-publishing your book, you really, really want to check out the Tattered Cover Book Store‘s new Print On Demand services.

Read more about the specifics here.

I am beyond thrilled about Tattered Cover’s new venture. 😀 Starting their own small press is a brilliant strategy to ensure their long-term survival and prosperity in this new age of publishing.

This venture benefits the Tattered Cover Press and their authors. You, the author, get the freedom of e-publishing on Google Books, placement in Tattered Cover’s eBook store, and physical paper books on demand.

As much as I may admire the freedom of e-books and self-publishing, there’s no substitute for actual paper books. Tattered Cover’s Print On Demand services has you covered, either way. 😀

Kristen Lamb: Bracing for Impact–The Future of Big Publishing in the New Paradigm

Writer’s Toolbox – yWriter5

The scenes and chapters that authors write are pieces of a puzzle. Standard word processors such as Microsoft Word and Open Office Writer are ideal for composing your pieces. When you have gathered all the pieces and are ready to start assembling your puzzle, it’s time for a specialized editing tool. yWriter5, created by author Simon Haynes.

You can download and use it for free, with no time restrictions or ads. If you find this program to be beneficial, you can make a donation or click the links on the donation page to spread the word about his software on Google, Twitter, or Facebook.

The basics of yWriter5 were covered in Ron Heimbecher’s “Mapping, Trapping and Zapping” class at the 2011 Colorado Gold conference. After editing the first thirteen chapters of my novel in yWriter5, I have some useful tips.

In yWriter5, the building blocks of your novel are scenes. Chapters in yWriter5 are simply the upper level folders in which scenes reside. Your written text is pasted into scenes. This means when you create a chapter, you have to create scenes within the chapter before you paste in your text. In our critique group documents, we tend to mark scene changes with asterisks or the like. When pasting your documents into yWriter, you’ll copy and paste one scene at a time. yWriter5 can automatically split your scenes with asterisks, pound signs or your own custom characters when you export the project.

Sample story content tab
click on image to view in full size

The logic behind organizing a project by scenes is readily apparent from Simon Haynes’ own example. He had saved the chapters of his first novel as individual files (as I did). The organizational difficulties he experienced after moving a scene from one chapter to another (and back) are what prompted him to create yWriter5. Relocating a scene from one chapter to another is, of course, a quick and easy operation in yWriter5.

You can even define scenes as “used” or “unused.” If you wish to leave a scene out of an exported project, all you have to do is change it to “unused.” This ability comes in particularly handy if you have scenes you wish to leave out of agent and publisher submissions, but you want to keep those same scenes in your eBook version. When the scene editor is closed, a quick way to determine if your scene is “used” or “unused” (besides the small “Sc” or “U” boxes) is to check the chapter’s word count in the left pane. The chapter’s word count will drop when the scene is marked “unused”, and increase when the scene is again marked “used”.

yWriter5 features a Character index for scenes. Characters are assigned short names (ie: Holden) and full names (ie: Holden Morrisey Caulfield). I created some middle names for minor characters to make the index complete. A naming convention I had to consider is that European-descent working-class persons born before the 19th century generally did not have given middle names. Thus, my vampires born before 1800 lack middle names. One glance at my yWriter5 name listing quickly tells you which of my vampires are older. (One exception, L. She now uses her maiden name as her middle name)

In addition to the Character index, scenes also have Location and Item indexes. For example, you can quickly summon each scene occurring at Denver International Airport, or the scenes in which a Nissan GT-R appears. The indexes are very useful for editing out duplicated information about your locations and items.


click on image to view in full size

One issue I haven’t found an easy solution for yet is: If you paste double-spaced text into a scene, there’s no easy way to change it to single-spaced from within yWriter. My workaround has been to paste my text into plain text files (which removes all the formatting), then paste from there into yWriter and re-format. I prefer having the plain text files as an extra form of backup. You can also reformat your document as single-spaced, save it, then paste into yWriter. YWriter does have a global “remove all formatting” option, but this will strip out all your bolds, italics, underlines, etc.

yWriter5 does have a few idiosyncrasies you will have to learn before you master it, but it’s a well-designed program that will be of great help to you. And it’s free! 😀