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B&N is Coming to CES 2014 Sans Nook

For the barnes noble logosecond year in a row Barnes & Noble is renting a booth at CES. Once again they will be occupying a booth in the lobby of the Las Vegas Convention Center, and once again they won’t be showing off the Nook (or so the exhibitor listing and scheduled event suggest).

I know that last year I said that it was crazy to come to a gadget trade show and not bring a gadget to show off, but I think there may be a method to B&N’s madness.

This post finds me stuck home for a night due to a weather -induced flight cancellation, and that delay has given me time to sit and think about B&N’s latest crazy stunt. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not as crazy as it looks. I’m beginning to think Barnes & Noble came to CES this year to promote their core business:


Sure, the Nook platform gets all the attention but the reality is that Barnes & Noble has always made more from their stores than from the Nook. That was true even before the Nook started its decline last holiday season, and it is even more true today. And that could be why B&N is coming to CES this year.

Much to my surprise, Barnes & Noble is acting like a bookseller. They even have an all day event scheduled for Tuesday where they promise that prominent leaders in tech will be autographing their books.

Now, the next question that comes to mind is whether this is a good investment. I tend to think it’s not, but even though I think it is ill-advised I also have to say that it is not a dumb idea (how I described it last year).

B&N might not see a direct monetary or marketing gain from exhibiting at CES, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t have something to gain from showing up.

Would anyone care to guess what that is?

I know that more than a few of my readers run businesses of one type or another, so I am betting that you have a better idea what B&N stands to gain. What do you think they’re going for?


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carly January 5, 2014 um 7:05 am

I think you are right about why B&N isn’t bringing Nooks, but I think its a poor decision that reflects the central conflict of B&N’s business model: its eBooks or books. They can’t seem to reconcile that they can do both. Nothing says they can’t bolt a few Nooks to their booth, especially if they plan to attract lots of visitors with author signings.

David Gaughran January 5, 2014 um 8:11 am

B&N/Nook was at the London Book Fair too. I was hoping to drop into them for a chat (as I managed with KDP/Createspace, Kobo, and Smashwords). But all they had was a closed door booth, nothing inside except a table and a few chairs. No equipment, samples, or anything like that. Seemed like they were taking (pre-arranged) meetings in there, but that’s about it.

Caleb Mason January 5, 2014 um 5:28 pm

They might be fishing for some tech investment dollars is my guess.

Robert January 6, 2014 um 11:43 am

Well, what’s worse? No Nooks or showing up with the old Nooks? Showing up to CES with two models that are over a year old would potentially look worse.

Over the holidays I was surprised to see their stores still have signs that refer to "the new Nook HD". Perhaps they don’t necessarily need to update their models but surely at some point in 2013 they could have at least rolled out some new signage to replace the 2012 stuff for the THEN new HD and HD+. Leaving "new" on the things for this holiday season just makes it look like no one is at the wheel.

Nate Hoffelder January 6, 2014 um 12:05 pm

I was hoping that they would unveil the new nook tablet at CES 2014. Unfortunately, my store-level sources are saying that the new signs reference the old products.

MMAN January 6, 2014 um 4:44 pm

After my experience with the Nook, I’d leave it at home, too. I ran into a defective product, made more frustrating by the lack of customer service. I ordered my unit online. It broke. They told me to take it back to a store. I don’t live near a store. A complaint to customer service got me a "new" one. The "new" one turned out to be a "certified" reconditioned unit. I had had mine for less than 2 months when it broke. I complained and got a new unit. Won’t be shopping at B&N any more.

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