Bookstores Should Copy Best Buy's Approach
Amazon isn't stopping there. They've also announced a deal to sell the Kindle at Best Buy. As this article notes, that means Best Buy will offer the Kindle, the Nook and the Sony Reader. And don't forget Best Buy also currently sells the iPad, making the big blue box store your one stop shop for everything e-reader related.
Have you noticed you can buy a Nook or an iPad on Amazon? So if it makes sense for Best Buy and Amazon to offer all these devices, why don't the brick and mortar bookstores do the same? I think it's because the brick and mortars foolishly believe the only way they can win the ebook war is by selling only their device.
The problem with that logic is they're focusing on the wrong goal. They're too busy worrying about device sales when they should be investing more in the content itself. Amazon gets this. That's why they have a Kindle reader on all the major platforms (e.g., Apple and Android). Even though B&N has a Nook reader for the iPad I never think to buy a Nook book on my iPad. Never.
So if you're B&N or Borders, what do you have to lose by selling the iPad in your stores, for example? Don't stop there though. Come up with a compelling reason why someone buying an iPad in your store should go to your ebook store (not Apple's or Amazon's) so that you get a cut of the device sale but, more importantly, you earn the longer-term ebook business of that same customer. Heck, even a simple loyalty program for customers who buy an iPad from you is a good start; give them a special discount on the purchase of their first couple of ebooks.