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B&N Comes to CES, Leaves Nook Hardware at Home

20130110-1449471When I was putting together my list of exhibitors to see at CES, Barnes & Noble was near the top (in the B’s). I can’t recall that they’ve ever been an exhibitor at CES before, so I was curious about what their booth would contain.

B&N had a prime location in the main lobby, but would you believe I couldn’t find their booth? I’m not kidding; I passed through the lobby twice looking over people’s heads for either a giant Nook HD or Nook signs and I didn’t see anything.

Luckily for me Carly Z of Gear Diary was more persistent and she found the Barnes & Noble booth:


No, you’re not missing anything; there’s no sign that B&N is in the ereader business. The only reason B&N was at CES was to promote the recently published nonfiction title Ninja Innovation (by Gary Shapiro, the head of CES).

Barnes & Noble has a booth at one of the best locations on the show floor of the world’s largest gadget trade show and they don’t have a single gadget on display. They literally have tens of thousands of people passing by their booth everyday and they don’t have a Nook to show off.

What makes this even worse is that B&N was at the Pepcom Digital Experience show Monday night. That is an unaffiliated 1-night show which serves a much smaller audience with only the press allowed in, and B&N had a complete booth’s worth of Nook gear to show off.

But they didn’t bring any of it to the main event, CES 2013.  Are they trying to commit suicide?

At this point that is no longer a rude question; while I am a firm believer in Hanlon’s razor (never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity), there comes a point when stupidity is no longer an adequate explanation.

CES 2013 is that point.


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cookie January 10, 2013 um 10:13 pm

I assume they wouldn’t want to display a device that is already available for sale to the public. So, there was really no point for them to be there.

Nate Hoffelder January 10, 2013 um 10:14 pm

Why not? Lots of other companies are displaying gadgets they are already selling.

DavidW January 10, 2013 um 10:35 pm

That actually makes me mad that they would buy a booth at a gadget show and not show a single gadget. CES is not a book fair you idiots!! Why waste the money!?! Ridiculous!

fjtorres January 11, 2013 um 6:24 am

Come on! It is obvious! 😉
They didn’t want *their* devices to outshine *Shapiro’s* Book.
They weren’t there to help their company’s sales; they were there to help the *publisher* improve *their* bottom line.

Some products you sell from a bright mall boutique, others from the back of a white van in a dark alley. The show orrganizer’s book goes to the boutique, the lapdog’s product goes to the alley.

willem January 11, 2013 um 9:00 am

Perhaps a sign they might not have anything in the pipeline?

Possibly they are finally throwing in the towel on the hardware front, which would be a sign that there are still some flickers of sanity in that dim bulb of a mind that is B&N top brass.

Mike Cane January 11, 2013 um 9:05 am

It doesn’t matter now. B&N will be killed by — wait for it — Archos! Archos will be selling a 9.7″ Retina-class screen tablet for less than the price of the Nook HD+ — US$249. With the latest Jelly Bean Android. No rooting needed. Cue the violins. It’s over for B&N.

oj829 January 11, 2013 um 12:08 pm

Eh. I like (and only occasionally love) my Archos hardware – I have four diferent Archos tablets. But they’re from the era before $200 for a 7″ Android tablet was the new standard. Archos users put up with a lot during those long dark years to be early adopters and get that "bargain". Once the market hit that as the standard going price – and kept going and going – much of what made Archos compelling is fading fast.

As the OP mentioned, SOMEBODY shipped a bunch of B&N hardware to Vegas for a press/invitee event, but they made a conscious decision to not be on the main show floor with it.

I could see making that decision.

fjtorres January 11, 2013 um 12:11 pm

I was actually intrigued by the Titanium 80. But I finally found a source with the screen specs: XGA. So, no-go. I would’ve settled for SXGA (1280×1024) but 2013 is too late for a sub-HD screen. Especially one without the Apple logo. 😉

The 97?
One report said it felt plasticky and cheap (as in flexy) which the 8 and 10in XGA models didn’t.

If I don’t see another alternative soon, I’ll just bite the bullet and go with the FireHD8.9.

oj829 January 11, 2013 um 12:19 pm

And they just strike me as fugly:

Not even thinking about it.

Mike Cane January 12, 2013 um 10:34 am

Oh stop. Archos has a Retina class screen on the 9.7″. 1024 x 768 matches the iPad Mini for just $149 (Titanium) and $199 (Platinum). No one yet has a Retina-class 8″ screen on a tablet, so why fault them for not being a leader — especially when you damn well know Apple tends to sew up supplies to cut out competitors.

cookie January 11, 2013 um 2:00 pm

I am liking Archos' lineup and their pricing. Surprised to hear the the Platinum models have 2gb of ram.

oj829 January 11, 2013 um 2:42 pm

Archos can be okay if you know what you’re getting into. But part of that is holding, touching, and using. Unfortunately, almost all of their sales are mail-order, and they have a bewildering variety of seemingly super-similar-to-each-other products.

If I had to do it all over again, and knew then what I know now, I still would get, for example, their A70 Internet Tablet – light, speakers in front, easy one-handed operation – and maybe even their now ancient second crack at the market: their resistive-only, no-pinch A7 Home Tablet (because I LIKE being able to browse the web with my fingernail; so sue me).

But it’s been a lot of headaches and gotchas along the way. Not for the faint-hearted.

cookie January 11, 2013 um 6:26 pm

I have owned couple of Archos as well. My main gripe with them was having to use hacks to install Google apps.

I am leaning towards buying the Archos Titanium 7″, although I change my mind frequently.

Mike Cane January 12, 2013 um 10:36 am

All the Archos are Google Certified. But so, it seems, is everydamnthing now. It seems Archos finally has some tablets that look like they are worth buying. I just hope the QC is finally there because it hasn’t been in the past and damn there are some epic rants about how bad Archos' past hardware has been.

Robert Nagle January 11, 2013 um 9:36 am

(Maybe they originally expected to have some future product to tout, but their priorities had since changed?)

Rich Dailey January 11, 2013 um 9:38 am

Here’s the flat of it: I actually prefer the Nook hardware over Amazon’s readers. I have no logical and/or technical reason to feel this way. Not that I’m technically incompetent: I’m aware of the features that Amazon brings with the Kindle products, the ones B&N cannot, or will not provide to keep pace.

I was an early adopter of the original Nook 3G, with the hybrid e-ink and touch screen. I loved it, even though it would crash or lock up occasionally (later OS updates cured it of these ills, for the most part). Later (what, about a year?) I acquired the Nook Color. I purchased Simple Touch ereaders for my daughters when those came out, and was impressed with the performance of it compared to the original Nook, so much so that I eventually got a refurb for myself.

What was that intangible thing that kept me close to B&N? I could smell the coffee shop whenever I opened the leather cover of the device. I was linked, transported to a physical store in my mind when I shopped for a title in the Nook app. The device(s) feel good. They feel personal.

I’m aware this makes no sense to most, but it should have made perfect sense to Nook division marketing. And I think what angers Nook devotees is that we read the stories when B&N/Nook drops the ball, and they just don’t seem to care to pick it back up. And we know we’ll not have this same kind of devotion to the device that we fear we’re being driven to (Kindle). No in-store, no coffee smell, just the yellow “one-click” buy button and a portrait of Jeff Bezos hanging in our mind.

I understand that it may be inevitable that Amazon will own the ereader market fairly completely in the not-too-distant future. And I’ll side-load titles onto my Nook and recall a time when there was a choice. And the smell of coffee.

FYI – I have a tablet also, in addition to the NC. I really do prefer the e-ink for immersive reading. Less chance to distract myself, better environment for immersing myself in the words. I’m hoping the color touch screens will not totally gobble up e-ink.

Enjoy the stories here on the Digital Reader. Keep up the great work.

Dlbroox January 12, 2013 um 8:33 am

See now, I understand this because I’ve been using a nook color for two years and love it. I now have a nook hd and love that even more. The non reflective screen is the thing that makes a huge difference for me in addition to all the intangibles you list here. And the hd is really outstanding.

I have an iPad and use that for specific things, but for reading, I use the nook exclusively. I have a couple of magazine subscriptions and tons of books. And I do have an e ink device too, the simple touch, but still like the backlit environment is better for my aging eyes.

Maybe Barnes made a mistake showing what they did at CES, or not showing…but I don’t really understand what all the hate is about on them. Their tablets are specifically ereaders with extras, and they are outstanding at what they do.

Vonda Z January 11, 2013 um 10:28 am

Is it possible that they were given the booth for the specific purpose of promoting the book?

Nate Hoffelder January 11, 2013 um 10:46 am

That would be an incredible waste of resources.

fjtorres January 11, 2013 um 12:17 pm

Even the smallest booth at that show costs big bucks: Apple rarely (never?) shows up and Microsoft stopped attending because they didn’t see the expense justifying itself.
And if anybody but B&N was footing the bill, they would be putting their name upfront.
The Booth says B&N so they’re the ones footing the bill for one reason or another.
Maybe they expect that book to be the next 50 Shades…?

Vonda Z January 11, 2013 um 3:23 pm

But the book was written by Gary Shapiro, Head of CES. You don’t think he couldn’t/wouldn’t get a booth to promote his own book and BN takes advantage of the opportunity to have a presence and sell some books? Seems like that is less of a waste of resources than BN paying big bucks for a booth and just using it to sell/promote a single book.

fjtorres January 11, 2013 um 4:28 pm

He runs the CEA, he doesn’t *own* it.
Unless all the revenue from the book goes to the CEA such a deal would be…interesting…

Cyrus January 11, 2013 um 11:16 am

Sigh… have actually worked for companies that waste money like that. But the writing does seem to be on the wall.

oj829 January 11, 2013 um 12:13 pm

Never mind. I see upon closer reading of the original article that the book in question is a non-fiction title WRITTEN BY THE HEAD OF CES.

Nothing to see here. Move on.

fjtorres January 11, 2013 um 4:32 pm

The CEA is perfectly capable of promoting their own material–that *is* their daily job, after all–so why would they need that bastion of brilliant marketting, B&N, to front for them?
One way or another, the situation is… curious.

Nate Hoffelder January 12, 2013 um 12:03 am

Even if we assume that B&N was there at the request of CEA, they still had their signage up. They still listed themselves as exhibitors. They still had meetings at corporate.

If they didn’t realize that a lot of people would expect to see the Nook hardware in that booth then my initial point about the magnitude of this mistake remains true.

Mike Cane January 12, 2013 um 10:38 am

>>>so why would they need that bastion of brilliant marketting, B&N, to front for them?

Ummmm…. name another NATIONAL bookstore chain? Bueller? Bueller? That is why.

FAXBoy January 12, 2013 um 8:55 am

Please stop hyphenating nonfiction.

Mike Cane January 12, 2013 um 10:40 am

Oh, so you’re one of those damn Nazis who kills hyphens? I HATE people like you. Some terms NEED hyphens and, dammit, NON-fiction is one of them. There is NO SUCH FUCKING WORD as ":nonfiction." There is NON and there is FICTION and the combo requires the hyphen.

puzzled January 12, 2013 um 12:01 pm

the-combo. Hmmm.. Doesn’t work for me.

Mike Cane January 12, 2013 um 3:17 pm

Fitting handle then.

FAXBoy January 12, 2013 um 8:54 am

All available NOOKs must have been called to The UK to shore up B&N’s international presence just prior to CES 2013.

fjtorres January 12, 2013 um 5:00 pm

They should’ve called Kmart. Next week they’ll be giving $10 worth of loyalty points (the equivalent of a gift card) to anybody who’ll take a Nook STR off their hands.
(How many of those things *did* they make?!)

RTT June 10, 2013 um 2:22 pm

Except that wasn’t the Barnes and Noble booth at CES. I was actually at CES this year and saw the booth inside as well as this one (which was unrelated to Nook — you know how I know? I ASKED THEM! Wow!), plus actual media coverage with photos and it didn’t look anything like that. The more I go through your blog, the more errors I find. You’re insulting your readers by not fact-checking.

Nate Hoffelder June 10, 2013 um 2:33 pm

And now your criticism is revealed to be utter nonsense. If there was another booth then why wasn’t it listed online, and why couldn’t Carly find it either?

You say that it existed, so prove it.

RTT June 10, 2013 um 2:45 pm

Why is it nonsense? Because you can’t be wrong? First of all, I don’t know Carly so for all I know she’s just as much of a non-reporter as you are. Second of all, the booth you took this photo of was NOT in the convention hall. You know that, I know that. Doesn’t common sense tell you that a company wouldn’t have their main tech display booth outside of the convention hall?

I don’t work for any of these companies so I can’t tell you the row and letter of their location, but I found the booth fine just by wandering around and — shocker — asking! I asked this book stand person if they were affiliated with B&N or Nook and when they told me no, I went and asked one of the floor staff where the stall was. I didn’t think I needed to document that process but I’ll know for next time you make that mistake and write a How To Find Things at CES blog.

What would prove it to you? Nothing, I’m betting.

RTT June 10, 2013 um 2:54 pm

Actually, I see that this is Carly’s photo. So you didn’t even take it, you just assumed she was doing her homework when she wasn’t and repeating this non-story. That’s even worse in my opinion but whatever, carry on.

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