Meanwhile, B&N is still trying to make the Nook fly and Borders is hoping to make a splash with the Kobo. I hate to break the news but I don't think either of those devices have much of a future ahead of them. Borders is smart to play the price card, but the only way we'll see a mass market hit here is with a sub-$100 reader. That means it's nothing more than an eInk display that gets new content by tethering to your smartphone's Internet connection. I don't see anyone working on one of those and I'm not holding my breath waiting for one.
Even Amazon is obviously feeling the pain. Remember way back when, as recently as a year ago, Amazon felt they didn't need a brick-and-mortar presence or any advertising other than on their own site? Now, of course, the Kindle is carried by Target and, although I don't watch a lot of TV, a week never goes by when I don't see a Kindle ad.
Chalk it all up to the iPad. But rather than trying to fight the iPad with these inferior devices, why not embrace it? Why shouldn't all the brick-and-mortar bookstores sell iPads? The big guys obviously want to sell their books on the iPad; that's why B&N and Borders released iPad reader apps weeks ago. That was smart, now take the next step and become an iPad reseller.
Seriously, have you seen the "Nook specialist" at the front of B&N stores? This poor employee has the unfortunate job of pulling you over to the Nook display with the hopes of wowing you with the device's many features. It feels like the teenager serving orange chicken samples on toothpicks in the mall food court, only more awkward. Imagine the buzz the store would generate if that employee was showing demos of the iPad, featuring the store's app and books. I guarantee you it would drive a lot more interest than the Nook display (or the almost completely abandoned new media section at my local Borders store, where they try to sell Sony Readers).
And hey, you can keep selling your Nooks, Kobos and whatever other device you want to. Give your customers a choice and may the best device win. I'll bet it's the iPad though.
Most importantly, take all that money you're currently wasting to promote your eInk display readers and pour it into iPad app development. As I recently suggested to Amazon, become known for offering the most amazing, feature-rich reader app on the Apple platform. I can already choose from the iBookstore as well as Amazon's and B&N's for my iPad reading, but the reader apps are largely the same, so that means the best price generally wins for me. More often than not, though, prices are identical across all the stores, so the reading experience becomes the distinguishing factor. Why not make yours the best, the envy of the entire industry?
P.S. -- When is someone going to create an app that quickly tells me which ebookstore (for iPad reading) offers the best price on the book I'm considering? Apple probably wouldn't let an app like that slip through, so why not create a website that looks good on the iPad and I'll put a shortcut to it on my home screen?