ENTRIES TAGGED "barnes and noble"

Kindle Remorse: Will consumers ever regret ebook platform lock-in?

Every ebook purchased today makes it harder to switch platforms tomorrow

If Barnes & Noble doesn’t already have a sense of urgency, especially after last week’s developments, this quote from a thoughtful piece by Joe Arico should help fire them up:

In the age of the e-reader and tablet, every person that purchases an Amazon Kindle, Nexus tablet or iPad should be viewed as a customer Barnes & Noble will likely never get the chance to serve again.

That makes me wonder what goes through a consumer’s mind when they’re deciding which device to buy. I figure they’re mostly focused on brand, price, feature set, and perhaps what their friends and family recommend. But as Arico goes on to say:

Today, when a person decides which e-reader or tablet they’re going to buy, they’re also committing to the online retailer to supply books and other content.

You could argue that Amazon and B&N are making the decision less painful by offering reader apps on all popular platforms (e.g., Mac, Windows, Android, iOS). So the Kindle ebook you buy from Amazon can be read just about any modern device.

But what if Apple decides they’re tired of Amazon customers buying ebooks outside iOS and reading them on an iOS-powered device? Maybe Apple removes the Kindle app from their platform. (It could happen.) Or what if Amazon has a falling out with Google and the Kindle app disappears from all Android devices? You could replace “Amazon” with “B&N” in either of those examples and have the same problem.

Let’s look at this a bit differently: What if B&N comes out with a killer tablet that has all sorts of terrific features not found on any other device? And what if you’ve spent the past 5 years building your Kindle ebook library but the B&N device doesn’t support the Kindle app? Unless you’re prepared to abandon your library you probably won’t purchase and enjoy that new B&N tablet.

This doesn’t seem to be on many people’s radar right now but every ebook purchased today makes it harder for that customer to switch platforms tomorrow. Or, as Arico says later:

A customer who purchases an e-reader is paying for admission into a store they may never leave.

I can’t decide whether that reminds me more of Hotel California or the Roach Motel. Neither option sounds very appealing though.

What do you think? Consumers may not have buyer’s remorse today but is this platform lock-in something they’ll eventually regret?

Barnes and Noble, what’s the game plan?

Amazon's launch, Judge Cote's decision and an uninspired B&N add up a one-horse race

Do you suppose that trademark grin on the side of every Amazon box will get a little bigger now, maybe even showing some teeth?

The countdown has begun. Two noteworthy things happened yesterday. First, Amazon introduced a slew of new Kindle devices. Nothing revolutionary but some nice new features nonetheless. Second, and more importantly, Judge Cote approved the ebook settlement. I tend to think Amazon is probably more psyched about the latter than the former. After all, this means they can use their deep pockets to sell ebooks at a loss (OK, make one dollar of profit for each imprint) and drive the competition out of business.

It’s a victory for consumers, or so we’re being told. So what’s B&N, the #2 player, going to do now? Can they really match Amazon on pricing for very long? I don’t see how. And what’s the “why-to-buy” for a Nook anyway? I bought my Nook with GlowLight because I wanted to support the underdog. I’m in the minority though and I’m pretty sure yesterday’s developments will make it even harder for B&N to win over more new ebook/device customers.

Since there’s not a lot of innovation happening with these devices and platforms I figure B&N only has one option left. It’s the step some of us thought Amazon would take yesterday but they didn’t: Take a page out of the cell phone business and offer a low-end device for free that comes with a longer-term revenue commitment.

Remember this old line?: “Nobody ever gets fired for buying IBM.” There’s a similar belief that’s rapidly growing in the consumer space: “Nobody ever regrets buying Amazon/Kindle.” After all, you can get plugged into the $79/year Prime membership program and buy just about anything effortlessly, you get access to all those free ebooks, video, etc. Why wouldn’t someone buy a Kindle device?

The bigger question B&N has to answer is: “Why would someone want to buy a Nook over a Kindle?” If B&N doesn’t act quickly and with a really agressive campaign it’s clear their ebook market share will decline.

What do you think? Is the door rapidly closing on B&N’s opportunity to be a leader in the ebook space?

P.S. — Maybe the ideas I suggested in this earlier post aren’t so crazy after all.

Announcing the B&N Nook Membership Program*

*A purely fictional club that exists solely in Joe's imagination

If you saw our earnings announcement yesterday you realize we need to get creative in a hurry. Flat Nook performance in a rapidly growing ebook world just isn’t going to cut it. That’s why we brought our brightest minds together and created the exciting new Nook Membership program.

Read more…

Tracking Amazon's Dominance in the Book Industry

Morris Rosenthal says retail figures point to Amazon eclipsing Barnes & Nobles in U.S. book sales this year: The book selling wars that began four decades ago with the rise of the mall chains, followed by the growing power of the Barnes & Noble, Borders and BAM superstore chains, has been won by Amazon. Amazon sales are on track…

News Roundup: B&N Won't Buy Borders, Kindle Roadblocks and Sightings, Pirates Convince Game Developer to Drop DRM

Report: No Borders Bid for Barnes & Noble It looks like Barnes & Noble won't acquire Borders after all. The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) says B&N is changing course from earlier this year and will not submit a bid for Borders. Kindle Projections, Roadblocks and Sightings Theresa Poletti from MarketWatch comments on the relative absence of Kindle sightings, particularly…

Report: No Borders Bid for Barnes & Noble

It looks like Barnes & Noble won't acquire Borders after all. The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) says B&N is changing course from earlier this year and will not submit a bid for Borders. Related Stories: B&N Considering Borders Acquisition BN.com Redesign Nets Significant Traffic Increase Borders Goes Solo on New Web Site Amazon Growth Fuels Online's Book Market Share…

News Roundup: Publishers Push to Meet Russert Book Demand, Seth Godin's Kindle Analysis, BN.com Redesign Nets Big Traffic

Publishers Pushing to Meet Russert Book Demand Random House and Hyperion Books are rushing to meet demand for Tim Russert's two books, Wisdom of Our Fathers and Big Russ & Me. From Newsday: Carol Schneider, executive director of publicity at Random House, reports that the company is immediately printing 100,000 paperbacks of "Wisdom" that began shipping yesterday [6/16/08]. Likewise, Hyperion…

BN.com Redesign Nets Significant Traffic Increase

Barnes and Noble is seeing positive results from its 2007 Web site overhaul. From Publishers Weekly: … in 2007, the online arm of the retailer posted a 10.1% sales increase, helped by a strong fourth quarter, and the solid results continued into the first period of 2008: B&N.com posted a 7.2% sales increase, compared to an increase of 1.1%…

Borders Goes Solo on New Web Site

Borders has separated its e-commerce offerings from Amazon and opened its own Web site. From the New York Times: The new Borders site offers plenty to like, such as the Flash video-based "magic shelf" on the main page that recreates the experience of browsing the tables of new books at the entrance to stores. The site also ties in…

News Roundup: Apple vs. Kindle?, OLPC 2.0 as an E-Reader, B&N Studying Borders Acquisition

Will Apple Challenge the Kindle? Rex Hammock re-launches consideration of why Apple would give Amazon a run for ebook readers and content distribution: … a slightly larger iPod Touch [view concept image] linked to eBooks distributed via the iTunes store would match and raise the game with Amazon. (Continue reading.) Next Generation OLPC: E-Reader in Waiting? Laptop Mag has an…