Barnes & Noble breaking from Nook…

Barnes and & Noble spinning the Nook to its own business unit that will be separately traded going forward, and possibly sold to a private investor as soon as 2015?


Not unexpected, but still very sad.

Publishing is forever changing, and what works today might be the worst possible solution to tomorrow’s problem. We all know that.

But when a book selling giant like B&N (or Borders or Waldenbooks or, say, Harlequin or Penguin or…) can’t make the business work, no matter how hard they try (or stumble around, as the case has been much of the last five years of lightening-fast shifts in the book industry’s retail playing field), it’s time for writers to pause, take stock of their personal business models, and update every last thing we can to be forward-facing, rather than excessively reactive and behind the curve.

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4 Responses to “Barnes & Noble breaking from Nook…”

  1. Amy Pfaff says:

    Might not be a bad idea to have Nook be separate. May open the door for publishers like Amazon to have their books sold via epub and Nook market.

  2. I’d agree, Amy, except that Amazon’s the one choosing not to share their digital content with anyone, not the other way around. As a Montlake authors, it’s one of the few downsides of publishing with an Amazon imprint (and I’m currently listed with 47 North, too, their sci-fi line).

    It’s Amazon’s choice not to list/share my titles with Nook, Kobo, Smashwords, etc. And in retaliation, B&N refuses to stock our print titles in their stores.

    BTW, it would be nice for everyone to remember the latter (how B&N chooses to punish the authors for their publisher’s business decisions), while the media and trad published authors everywhere are jumping on the “get Amazon” bandwagon for having the gall to renegotiate distribution contracts with whichever bully of a big five publisher is pouting and saying, “That’s not fair!” this week.

  3. But Anna, Amazon is the 8 million pound gorilla here, and you’re not missing out on much by not having your books in B & N. (I have the sales figures from doing business with both, to prove it.) The problem is that Amazon has undercut the prices of books so badly over the years that it’s driven the competition out of business. B & N is the last of the big (relatively, but still tiny in comparison)alternatives to Amazon, and I fear it’s not long for this world. I promise you, this is not just about Amazon fighting with Big 5 houses. This is about Amazon taking more and more away from all publishers. And more choices away from authors, soon. Keep that in mind, guys. — small press trad publisher hybrid author here, who does business with the Big A on the inside of the gladiator ring.

    • I don’t disagree, Deb. Except that traditional publishers are raping and pillaging too, in today’s digital book market. Their cut of digital book sales for example, by refusing (the big houses at least) to offer competitive digital book royalties, is just one example. Instead of sharing revenue at something close to 50/50 as they were supposedly in print, they’re taking something approaching all the revenue from digital book sales and expecting authors (and distributors like Amazon and other retail sites) to be okay with pennies to the dollar. And Amazon’s saying if that’s going to be the publisher’s take, they want their same ratio of return on what’s being made from their site.

      I’m not disagreeing that the drop in price for books by Amazon hasn’t been bad for everyone and for the margins of traditional publishers. But Wallmart was bad for everyone, so was B&N when they and Wallmart went a long way toward running other physical retailers like Borders and Waldenbooks out of business by working the system to their advantage as well.

      So, I wasn’t saying Amazon isn’t a problem. I’m saying they’re by no means the only problem. And that they’re not doing anything that other retailers, including B&N, and publishers haven’t been doing forever–which is skimming most all of the profit off the top and leaving the writers who create the product being sold with next to nothing for their troubles.

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