What can Barnes and Noble do to stay relevant with Nook?

Sections: ebooks, Mobile Computers

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Anyone else find it ironic that I’m writing this at a Barnes and Noble Cafe?

There have been many stories recently about the uninspiring fourth quarter Nook sales. Some are predicting the demise of the Nook line if Barnes and Noble doesn’t do something, and soon.

So what can they do to encourage people to buy their devices, especially their tablet line?

1. Redesign their website

I used to own a Nook Color. I replaced it with a Kindle Touch and an iPad for many reasons. One was the ease of finding and buying books on the Amazon site. The B&N site was slow, hung frequently and often made me click several times to complete the purchase. Amazon, by contrast, is quick and easy. A few clicks, and I’m done. Book on its way to all my devices.

2. Remove DRM from their books

I know. It’s kind of a Holy Grail for ebook readers, but it’s important for a reason. When people buy books, they want it to be easy and they don’t want to be stuck with a book they can’t read later. Not everyone will use a tool like Calibre to archive their books but enough people will, making the Nook a bit more attractive.

Of course, the publishers are afraid of piracy but I think Barnes and Noble is the retail partner who could make them change their mind. Brick and mortar book stores are vanishing quickly. Publishers need Barnes and Noble to remain relevant and in business. That makes them the best partner to make the case for DRM removal from all commercial ebooks.

3. Open up the Nook App Store

People complain the Apple App Store is a closed garden. Arguably, it is, but I can rarely see the wall when I buy apps from them. Lack of Nook apps was the other reason I replaced my Nook Color with an iPad. The new Nook HD tablets are gorgeous machines but their use is limited to media consumption. Tablets are so much more than that, and the buying public is wise to that. The Amazon App Store is a sad place compared to Google Play or Apple but at least you can find apps to perform basic tablet functions. The Nook App Store is mainly populated by kid games. Those are important, but not enough to make people buy the tablets when the Kindle Fire can do so much more.

Did I miss anything? I believe competition in the tablet and ereader space is a good thing. I’d like the Nook to be around for a long time. But something needs to change, or they will go the way of the dodo.


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