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    © 2014, Joseph B. Wikert
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« Beyond quick-and-dirty conversions | Main | What's going on with readers today? »

February 27, 2013


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Chris Rechtsteiner

Today's e-reader apps have pretty much the same functionality as yesterday's. There's basically no innovation happening with the user experience in any of these apps, whether they come from Amazon, B&N, Kobo, etc.

This is perfectly stated and the importance can't be stressed enough. The opportunity to empower content creators is software based, not hardware based. By focusing efforts on the creation and distribution sides, B&N has an opportunity to find what it has needed all along - differentiation.

There are dozens of outstanding, innovative technologies and companies out there that would line up to help a B&N differentiate. It's time for them to look beyond their comfort level and find a new path to benefit their suppliers and customers.

Tom Semple

The fly in the 'no hardware' ointment is that iOS remains a very popular mobile platform (approaching 40% overall, and over 50% share on tablets), but Apple effectively does not let ebook retailers link their branded reading app to a storefront without giving Apple a cut. Without such integration, it is difficult to get people to bookmark your storefront and use the browser to buy ebooks. Meanwhile a third of the Android tablet market, Kindle Fire, is off limits to the Nook app. And even though Nook for Android has a storefront built in, it is not very alluring (a quality that I think pertains to their web storefront as well).

There aren't any easy solutions here but I agree it starts with focussing on the customer experience (storefront and reading), so they can attract new customers.

Joe Wikert

Tom, your points are very important. And although I'm sure B&N would love to capture 100% of all resulting ebook revenue I'd like to think they'll take 70% of something from Apple rather than 100% of nothing if they don't continue playing there.

Dave Bates

Having just acquired a new Nook Simpletouch, I won't need to upgrade my hardware for some time. My concern is what I'll do if B&N stops selling ebooks in the epub format or if by chance my Nook breaks. I currently have almost 1100 nook books in my library that would be unreadable if I had to switch to a Kindle. I suppose as long as the Nook software is available I could buy an Ipad, but right now I don't have an extra $500 to spend for one. The solution, in my opinion at least, would be for Amazon, or some other programmer, to develop software that will convert epub to mobi and also to eliminate the protection on the ebooks.

Tom Semple

BTW, for some innovation in reading apps, check out 'Marvin' for iPad. There are some nice ePub apps on Android too.

The reason vendor apps are so pared down is that they are in the business of selling books and anything spent on app development requires some justification. You might have seen Baldar Bjarnason's recent post about B&N, echoing some of your thoughts but arguing that they should outsource app development as well as discontinuing hardware development.

Someday, I'd like to have the ability to separate consumption (reading app), cloud (storage, syncing, annotation backup), and storefront in a seamless fashion, choosing best of class. DRM, and lack of standards for interfacing these things, makes that a bit of a challenge.

Tom Semple

Apple should consider revising their in-app purchase polices when it comes to digital content sales.

30% is reasonable when the content is owned by the app developer (games) but not when the app is selling other people's content. Yes, B&N might do well to accept 70% rather than 100% . But by the same token, Apple might do well to accept 10-15% rather than 0%.

And of course, that would also enable the best user experience for people using Apple hardware.

Francis Hamit

When I see a Nook, I think "BetaMax". It is in the same position. A technologically superior device that is second in the market and doomed to die. This is why we are not putting out many titles in that format. The ones we do put up for Nook sell a small fraction of the copies of the same titles sold on Amazon Kindle.

Zara Fletcher

With the latest financial report of B&N, I agree with critiques that it needs to abandon hardware industry. I think it still lacks the capacity to surpass or just get into the level of other hardware providers like Amazon. This could probably be attributable to its infancy when it comes to marketing. I suggests it first concentrate on the other components of its electronic book or e-book retailing business: the content and the selling model. It would be best, instead, to put emphasis on altering the reading experience as well as the content acquisition model. This will definitely lead the company to bigger success.

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