by Randy Lea
I live in Vancouver, WA, with Powell’s Bookstore in Portland about 40 miles away. I was thrilled when the B&N stores opened in the area, they were a lot smaller than Powell’s, but were closer, and had the coffee bar.
B&N has since operated like they are run by people with 2 years before retirement, they want to keep everything static to maximize their retirement. They for the most part fight the Internet, not embrace it.
My memory says that B&N had the first cheap Android tablet, but it was locked down to work only as a book reader, until hackers made it useful. Then, as a hacked, useable tablet, its sales exploded. Then, instead of giving away the razor and making money on the blades (this is exactly what Amazon does with tablets), B&N made it a profit center and failed to compete with Amazon.
B&N has operated from fear, where Amazon grabs the bull by the horns and goes, understanding that they will make errors.
For example, Amazon works with Overdrive to provide ebooks for libraries. A lot of people don’t like library ebooks because they expire in 1-3 weeks, and people like me will read library ebooks all the time. I don’t think Amazon loses much if any sales servicing library customers, but they do get them to their web site.
I don’t actually buy may ebooks from Amazon, but I own multiple Amazon tablets. They are great for ebook and videos, which is what I use them for, plus Amazon updates their tablets, unlike any other Android maker. They are also trivial to add the Google Play Store to, making them as useful as the other Android tablets. They are by far the most cost effective tablets. I own a Kindle, but don’t use it much, I read at night and it doesn’t have a backlight.
As far as B&N improving sales, one of my biggest issues is finding content I want to read. Amazon and all the web sites and services fail for a simple reason, at least for me. I like very specific genres, not best sellers. I think B&N could add value by asking me very detailed questions about the books I want to read, then giving me suggestions. Lots of services do this but fail because they don’t have enough info.
For example, I like fiction set in the middle ages that’s not romance. They exist, good luck finding it. I like post-apocalyptic fiction that doesn’t have aliens or zombies. Good luck. Every book has meta-data, I just think that if this was expanded, reader would see a much higher percentage of books they might want. World War II fiction, same thing.
I’d love to see B&N succeed, but they have to be aggressive and get over their fear.