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Barnes & Noble's outlook is blurry, even for Nook

William Lynch, President of BN.com, presents the new 'Nook' digital reading device on October 20, 2009 in New York City.

Barnes & Noble had been expected to announce its financial results today, but it pushed the date back to February 28. Analysts predict the bookseller will report a profit for last quarter, but the outlook is doesn't look so good -- not even for its Nook e-reader.

Barnes & Noble says this year its Nook will lose more than the $260 million it originally predicted.

"Unfortunately the digital side is the side that's supposed to be doing better," says Laura Owen*, who covers publishing for tech website GigaOm. She says that in addition to the bad Nook news, sales in stores and online are down.

"So all of those things combined make it not look very good for the company," she concludes.

To try to pump up sales, Barnes & Noble is putting more toys, games and cards on its shelves -- which means less room for books.

“Who said the offering in the store should be limited to books?” asks Jerry Wind, who teaches marketing at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton business school. But he adds, "You have a far wider selection online, better prices. Why come to the store?"

That, Wind says, is what Barnes & Noble will have to figure out if it wants to keep its brick and mortar stores profitable.


* CORRECTION: The original article misspelled GigaOm tech writer Laura Owen's name. The text has been corrected.

About the author

Sally Herships is a regular contributor to Marketplace.
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If we don't want Barnes and Noble to close we need to start supporting the stores by actually buying products from them. So many people just use Barnes and Noble as a showroom to discover and check out products then go and buy them online on Amazon or ebay for a lesser amount. Yes I know we are all looking to save a buck but we can't forget that we alone determine what the future of retail holds. We obviously have to expect to pay more when going into any retail store. Retail stores have to pay rent, utilities, insurance, cost of damage and theft, salaries to employees. Amazon cuts out so many of these costs of course they can offer you an extraordinary savings. What they do not offer is the experience. You do not get to see and hold the product and know sight on scene that it is flawless. You can walk out of that store right there, right then fully assured your selected product is perfect, not a knock off, and exactly what you intended. You have to pay a premium for that. We should be happy to pay that premium, happy for the experience, happy to have a place to mill about and discover- and let's not forget the perk of instant gratification. I have so many fond memories growing up of milling about the video stores with friends or family. It was a Friday night light, a trip to the video store and a night of scary movies. Video stores are virtually extinct now with the changing face of the digital age. Books are a tangible thing. A trophy on a shelf. An indicator of culture or education. The book is too brilliant of an invention to ever go away= the turning of pages- the presence of the book itself. This cannot be replaced with a digital format. Supplemented maybe, but never, ever replaced. If we want to keep our book stores- which we do- then we need to support Barnes and Noble. There is a culture of book lovers out there that is vast and wide and oh so strong. It's up to us. I say we save them. We alone create the world we live in it. I want to live in a world with book stores- not some mega monster giant like Amazon that is swallowing the retail industry as we know it whole.

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