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Barnes and Noble to Stop Manufacturing Nook Tablets

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013 | Posted by John ONeill

Nook-ColorToday wasn’t a very good day for Barnes & Noble and its Nook e-reader business.

Yesterday, the nation’s top brick and mortar bookseller announced earnings for fiscal 2013 and they weren’t pretty. Sales plummeted in the last quarter, and the company’s net loss for the year more than doubled to $475 million.

Nook sales, which were tooted as the company’s salvation as recently as last year, fell to just 1 million units in the fourth quarter, down from 1.4 million in the same period last year. At the same time, sales of Kindle e-readers have kept growing at a robust clip. As part of its earnings statement, B&N announced it would discontinue tablet manufacturing in an effort to stop the red ink.

The headlines have been ugly. AllThingsD reported “Barnes & Noble Gets the Nook Ready for Its Dirt Nap,” BusinessWeek said “Barnes & Noble’s Nook Business Sees Fifty Shades of Red,” The Wall Street Journal announced “Barnes & Noble Throws in the Towel on Tablets,” and Motley Fool‘s read simply “Barnes & Noble Finally Gives Up.” Today the stock took it on the chin, dropping 17 percent to $15.61.

I finally bought my Nook HD tablet a few weeks ago. I know, I know. The very moment everyone else is fleeing the Nook, I figure it’s a good time to get around to that new tablet purchase. Maybe not the best timing. But hey, the price was great, and I wanted to support a quality digital reader while I still could. Reminds me of all those dumb hardware purchases I made in the late 90s, trying to single-handedly keep the Amiga alive.

B&N is not exiting the hardware business entirely. It will continue to produce the black-and-white versions of the Nook and look for a partner to take on the production of the high-end color tablets. Speculation is swirling around Microsoft as a possible white knight, but it’s all simply rumors at this point.

In the meantime, I’m enjoying my new $149 tablet. It really is a great little Internet appliance and a handy way to watch movies and read books. I have no idea how long they’ll be available at that price, so if you’re interested you might want to move quickly.

19 Comments »

  1. I’ve been going back and forth on getting an e-book reader for over a year now. Every time I say “Yes! I’m getting on board the 21st century” I end up chickening out. Even though I see the logic and convenience of e-readers something keeps holding me back. My wife has made the offer once again, so who knows, maybe I’ll take the plunge this time. There’s an awfully cool “Cthulhu Mythos Meg-pack” out there for only 3 bucks.

    And yes, the Amiga was worth saving. I sure miss mine.

    Comment by doug - June 26, 2013 7:46 am

  2. I have to wonder how long B&N will last? I went into one the other day and noted that the music & video section was not dedicated to kids products. With two huge children’s sections, one for books and one for toys/games/stuffed animals, as well as the large coffee shop, I had to wonder if books were becoming a kind of side business.

    As for e-readers, my son [at 7] swears by his Kindle paperwhite, and although I no longer have an iPad, for a few short months I fully understood the power they hold when talking about the ease of reading. There is something to be said for taking 20 books with you on vacation and adding almost no weight to your bags.

    Comment by Scott Taylor - June 26, 2013 10:38 am

  3. B&N is absolutely not going to last. There are reports they are now in “close 15-20 stores a year” mode.

    B&N will close down and indie bookstores will step in because with niche collections and selling online, they will be able to keep up with modest costs.

    I am pissed. B&N had a strong grip on the ebk market, competing heavily against Amazon – but then they dragged ass on getting a proper tablet out – and now they are going to give up on tablets completely and remain in b&w e-reader town? People don’t want single-use devices. This is a wrong move.

    Whatever. Amazon owns the world, with Apple coming in a close, expensive second. ::sigh::

    Comment by Patty Templeton - June 26, 2013 11:21 am

  4. There’s an easy way this could have been avoided. Don’t shop on Amazon. Buying a book has always been more than a physical product for me. I’m paying to walk into a bookstore and browse as long as I like, read through multiple books I’m thinking about getting, and then buying one. I’m poor, I don’t earn a lot of money, but I don’t mind paying cover price for a book I’m truly interested in. I did it for plenty of writers on this website. I walked into Barnes & Noble and ordered the book(s) at the customer service desk. Within a week my book(s) arrived. By God. WITHIN A WEEK. I didn’t pay a dime on shipping either. Some authors I got burned by, others I was more than thrilled. And I don’t for a moment regret paying cover price.
    I hate, hate, hate Amazon with a passion. I hate what they’re about. I hate what they do. I hate the way they treat vendors. However, they’re not responsible for brick-and-mortar bookstores going down, it’s the people who supported what Amazon does (and yes, I’m old enough to remember local bookstores and those shutting down when B&N moved into town. But what I’m adressing is cultural shift from being able to walk into A STORE vs. ordering from a 114-degree warehouse staffed by wage-slave workers and paramedics who put them back to work after they suffer a heatstroke). I made a conscious decision many years ago to withold my money from Amazon (on-line purcahses in general) because I knew what it would do to our culture. It’s happening, people are bemoaning, but they just HAVE to save 10% and get free super-saver shipping that takes over a week to arrive.
    Sorry for the rant. I’m done. :)

    Comment by Gabe - June 26, 2013 11:50 am

  5. Use the free e-reader apps on your phone, your laptop, and your desktop. Everywhere you are, you have one of them, or can access the cloud version of either from any internet access point.

    Why spend money at all on a device that is unnecessary at any price – even free? I already take my phone and laptop when I travel, a tablet when possible. Why would I carry a third or fourth electronic device that of them all does the least?

    I never thought I’d enjoy reading on my phone, but I must admit, carrying 80 books in my pocket 24/7 enables me to read anything, anywhere, anytime, so long as my phone has power. I cannot beat that, and the ability to do so hasn’t cost me anything more than the phone I was already carrying and the price of the book I was already buying.

    Comment by RBE Jason - June 26, 2013 12:33 pm

  6. > I’ve been going back and forth on getting an e-book reader for over a year now. Every time I say “Yes!
    > I’m getting on board the 21st century” I end up chickening out.

    Doug,

    I understand your hesitation, but I hope you take the plunge at some point. I’ve tried several of them now, and they really are marvelous. The ability to purchase and download any book in under 60 seconds is worth the cost in itself.

    > And yes, the Amiga was worth saving. I sure miss mine.

    I still have mine! Been a while since I’ve played DUNGEON MASTER and POOL OF RADIANCE, though. I should boot it up this weekend.

    Comment by John ONeill - June 26, 2013 2:02 pm

  7. > I have to wonder how long B&N will last?

    Scott,

    This is the larger question, for sure.

    One of the reasons I moved to St. Charles in 1997 was that the town was filled with tiny bookstores and used book shops. They’re all gone now, wiped out by the arrival of Borders and B&N.

    Borders is now gone, and if B&N closes, that will leave us without a bookstore of any kind.

    That’s not the only way life in my town is changing. But it’s one of the changes I mourn the most.

    > As for e-readers, my son [at 7] swears by his Kindle paperwhite

    Yes — exactly. My daughter asked me for a book a month ago, and when I passed it to her she wrinkled up her nose and said, “No, Dad. I mean I want it on my Kindle — so I can read it.”

    Comment by John ONeill - June 26, 2013 2:07 pm

  8. > B&N will close down and indie bookstores will step in because with niche collections
    > and selling online, they will be able to keep up with modest costs.

    Patty,

    I really hope you’re right… but I doubt it. I just don’t see a lot of people taking the risk of starting up an independent bookstore these days.

    Business people like to see successes they can imitate first, and for the last 15 years the independent bookseller biz has been a tale of failure.

    > People don’t want single-use devices. This is a wrong move.

    I think you’re absolutely right. I use my tablets far more often to access the internet than to read books. My kids use them to listen to music and play games.

    Readers don’t do that stuff. Only tablets do.

    Comment by John ONeill - June 26, 2013 2:12 pm

  9. > I hate, hate, hate Amazon with a passion. I hate what they’re about. I hate what they do

    Hi Gabe,

    I understand your passion, and you’re right that Amazon demands steep discounts from a lot of its vendors. It wields a big stick during negotiations with its vendors, and its not afraid to use it.

    But deliberately remaining blind to all the benefits of a massive retailer like Amazon isn’t really helping anyone, I think. Amazon has put me in touch with rare booksellers all over the world, and helped me locate very tough-to-find books and games from specialty outlets like Pelgrane Press, Subterranean, Kenzer & CO, and many others. They even carry Black Gate magazine!

    The truth is, Amazon stocks those publishers, and no one else will. I can browse through the complete catalog of Fantasy Flights’ ROGUE TRADER books, for example. Only one game store I know has even a handful in stock.

    For those reasons – and a lot more – I’m happy to support Amazon. I bought books from them the year they launched in 1994, and I’ve seen them grow from a scrappy start-up to one of the most successful companies in the world.

    The moment you get that successful, people start to hate you. But they’re just a business, like every other company.

    Comment by John ONeill - June 26, 2013 2:26 pm

  10. > Why spend money at all on a device that is unnecessary at any price – even free? I already take my phone and laptop when I travel,
    > a tablet when possible. Why would I carry a third or fourth electronic device that of them all does the least?

    Hey Jason!

    I dunno… why would you ever want to buy a book in hardcover, when you could read it in paperback?

    Because you prefer the reading experience that way. Sure, I could read everything on my phone, or at my computer desk. But I want to read on my couch. And I don’t want to squint at my phone for 3 hours.

    Besides, tablets have really changed the whole experience of reading for me. I’m constantly interupted when I read — kids want to know what showing of MAN OF STEEL we’re seeing and when the pool closes on Friday, or I’ll stumble on a word or reference that will bounce me out of my chair to look something up.

    Not anymore. Now I just flip over to the browser, look up what I want to know, and I’m back to reading in 45 seconds, without ever leaving my chair. It’s wonderful. I can check e-mail and weather on the porch, and get right back to my book.

    I’m not sure how I managed without tablets, but I’m sure I don’t want to go back.

    Comment by John ONeill - June 26, 2013 2:33 pm

  11. I have to say I do love my single-use e-reading device — it performs its single duty very, very well. I’ve also started sending whatever I’m reading to my phone and it’s very happy to be able to launch the app on the phone, start reading where I left off on the device, then have the device resync next time I use it.

    My mother has a Nook HD and I can see the attraction of a full-fledged tablet, but right now I just haven’t been able to justify adding one to the arsenal. (Live alone and work from home so there’s never conflict and I’m always mere feet from a mighty gaming computer.)

    And this doesn’t, of course, mean that I’ll ever stop buying or reading physical books.

    Comment by Joe H. - June 26, 2013 4:49 pm

  12. We went the Nook Simple Touch route but haven’t purchased more than a dozen or so works so far, so it won’t be too painful to change. Which I suppose we’ll have to do. Pity.

    Amazon and I haven’t gotten along in years. I hate to go that route. I’ve heard Apple has some shenanigans up their sleeve for music customers, and they’ve certainly never been high on my trust list.

    But I do love our E Ink dedicated reader. We’ve sold most of our bookshelves. Moving will be so much easier this way, and no fuss about what novels to take on a trip.

    I haven’t seen anything as easy on the eyes as E Ink. I spend too many hours on a computer already and have no desire to do my recreational reading on one. I don’t have a laptop, and they’re not convenient when lying in bed. My cell phone’s special features are limited to resisting water and blunt force trauma.

    I suspect a tablet looms in my future. If I can find one that’s as easy on the eyes as E Ink, I’ll give serious thought to using it as a reader, but I haven’t seen one yet that is.

    John, I played a Battletech ripoff on the Amiga. Overhead maps, turn based, build your own everything. It’s still my favorite BT-related game. Do you happen to know the name?

    Comment by Jeff Stehman - June 27, 2013 1:30 am

  13. > I have to say I do love my single-use e-reading device — it performs its single duty very, very well.

    Joe,

    Fair enough. I haven’t tried a pure e-reader, just a tablet. It wold definitely have the advantage of not constantly feeling I should switch over to check my Black Gate e-mail!

    Comment by John ONeill - June 29, 2013 9:05 pm

  14. > We went the Nook Simple Touch route but haven’t purchased more than a dozen or so works so far,
    > so it won’t be too painful to change. Which I suppose we’ll have to do. Pity.

    I think it depends on how deep the pockets are of the buyer. If Microsoft or Google (for example) buys the Nook division, I expect you’ll be able to use it for years to come.

    > John, I played a Battletech ripoff on the Amiga. Overhead maps, turn based, build your own everything.
    > It’s still my favorite BT-related game. Do you happen to know the name?

    Funny you should ask! It’s almost certainly BattleTech: The Crescent Hawk’s Inception, from Infocom:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BattleTech:_The_Crescent_Hawk%27s_Inception

    The reason it’s funny is that the game happened to be on my desk when I read your comment. I’ve been thinking about writing a VINTAGE BITS article about it for the blog. Great game!

    Comment by John ONeill - June 29, 2013 9:09 pm

  15. No, that’s not it. 😛

    I’m pretty sure someone’s intellectual property rights were being infringed by the game I played. And I think it was fan made.

    Comment by Jeff Stehman - July 3, 2013 2:25 am

  16. There’s an excellent list of BattleTech games here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_BattleTech_games

    and only one was released for the Amiga (officially). I don’t think any fan-made titles made the list, though.

    What else do you remember about it?

    Comment by John ONeill - July 3, 2013 12:43 pm

  17. Not much about the game itself, other than there were both scenarios and random setups, and you did the whole thing campaign style. A hex grid overlay on the terrain map. Line of sight had to be taken into consideration. The mech graphics were from a straightdown POV.

    I remember actuators being damaged. I remember that a critical hit to power generation could blow up a mech. I remember that a critical hit to the head of a mech could actually kill the pilot.

    I can tell you my custom built mech was 100 ton (the max), had a 20-point autocannon in its chest, a 10-point autocannon in the right arm, a 5-point autocannon in its left arm, and a medium laser on the head. The mech was Pale Horse, and the pilot was Deth. Does that help? :-)

    I remember one heavily forested scenario for which I built a custom mech, making it as small and light and fast and heat-synched as possible. Its only weapon was a flamethrower. At the start of the scenario that unit raced into the forest to set fires, limiting enemy approach due to heat issues.

    In other words, I can tell you stories, but mechanical details, not so much. So pretty much situation normal.

    Comment by Jeff Stehman - July 3, 2013 2:15 pm

  18. Aha! My google-fu has long struggled with this one, but I have finally bested it. Mechforce!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vz3e2hpbo50

    Comment by Jeff Stehman - July 3, 2013 2:22 pm

  19. […] Barnes and Noble to Stop Manufacturing Nook Tablets […]

    Pingback by Black Gate » Blog Archive » The Top 50 Black Gate Posts in June - July 30, 2013 6:39 pm


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