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JD57
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Registered: ‎02-03-2013

What does Nook need to do to survive?

As much as I love my Nook, it's hard read articles like this...

"While the Apple iPad and Amazon Kindle Fire filled many a stocking this holiday season, it appears the Barnes & Noble Nook was largely left out in the cold.According to data released today by Barnes & Noble, sales of Nook products took a tumble during the nine-week period ending Dec. 29.

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2413818,00.asp

...and imagine that they'll be around five years from now.

A year ago, the Nook might have some an advantage over its competitors in quality and price, but their all comparable now. There's no real compelling reason to reccomend a Nook over a Nexus 7 to anyone. My suggestions, for what they're worth:

1.Enough with the locked down ecosphere. This approach simply doesn't work, and it's getting embarrasing. I don't even bother reading those "Ten Must Have Apps for Android!" articles anymore, because I just know that none of them will be available for my Nook.

2.An advertsing campaign that explains the situation. Be up front and frame it in a David vs Goliath rivalry. "Amazon is undercutting us to run us out of business. You might be able to save a few bucks buying  in the short term, but if we go under, do yout hink they'll keep prices low, then?"

3.And also extolls the virtues of brick & mortar stores that allow people to meet, relax, grab a bite to eat, and provide a venue where authors can meet fans and do readings, etc. Drive home the point that supporting Barnes & Noble is about preserving a literary lifestyle, not just purchasing products.

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thans56
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Re: What does Nook need to do to survive?

Well if they are going to compete in the movies dept they need to step up their game. Did a side by side test today between nook hd plus and kindle fire hd. Downloaded the same exact movie with readers side by side. Same distance from wifi and high speed internet. When kindle finished download the nook was only at fifty percent. Took nook another thirty mins to finish download. Kindle with prime has free movies. Nook has no free movies and nothing like prime. I won't compare number of moviess it woulndnt be fair. Amazons been at thegame longer.
flyingtoastr
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Re: What does Nook need to do to survive?


thans56 wrote:
Well if they are going to compete in the movies dept they need to step up their game. Did a side by side test today between nook hd plus and kindle fire hd. Downloaded the same exact movie with readers side by side. Same distance from wifi and high speed internet. When kindle finished download the nook was only at fifty percent. Took nook another thirty mins to finish download. Kindle with prime has free movies. Nook has no free movies and nothing like prime. I won't compare number of moviess it woulndnt be fair. Amazons been at thegame longer.

Prime Instant Video is not free, it's $80 a year for a pale imitation of Netflix.

 

Another lesson in how good Amazon's spin department is.

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5ivedom
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Re: What does Nook need to do to survive?

This part from the article is interesting:

 

*****

  The Nook segment, meanwhile, "fell short of the company's expectations," Barnes & Noble said, dropping 12.6 percent. While sales of digital content - like apps, e-books, and magazines - were up 13.1 percent, Nook device sales "declined during the holiday period as compared to the prior year," the company said, without elaborating.

*****

 

If Nook segment dropped 12.6% and digital content rose 13.1% isn't it straightforward to go to past year's results and calculate, roughly, how much Nook device sales dropped?

 

What I'd be interested in knowing is -

 

1) What percentage of device sales were Color and Tablet?

 

2) How is B&N going to make up for those now that Color and Tablet are not being made?

 

*****

 

So are all those people (who bought Color and Tablet) going to choose HD and HD+ instead? Or will they choose another Tablet entirely?

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MyOwnLittleWorld
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Registered: ‎06-20-2011
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Re: What does Nook need to do to survive?

I'm also curious to add all epub format book readers and compare them with Kindle.

 

From the few Kindle owners I've spoken with love their Kindle Fire until the discover how they are confined to buying through Amazon.  Someone else wanted to download a free public domain book from gutenberg.org but couldn't.  As another poster said, their goal is to be the sole business with 100% market, even though it means they might sell below wholesale (also called a loss leader).

 

The joys of buying exclusively on the internet and not through a mom & pop business or brick and mortar.

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bobstro
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Re: What does Nook need to do to survive?

[ Edited ]

JD57 wrote:

[...] 1.Enough with the locked down ecosphere. This approach simply doesn't work, and it's getting embarrasing. I don't even bother reading those "Ten Must Have Apps for Android!" articles anymore, because I just know that none of them will be available for my Nook.

 

I've expounded on this one enough elsewhere, so suffice to say for now that I agree.

2.An advertsing campaign that explains the situation. Be up front and frame it in a David vs Goliath rivalry. "Amazon is undercutting us to run us out of business. You might be able to save a few bucks buying  in the short term, but if we go under, do yout hink they'll keep prices low, then?"

 

Was it Avis that used to run the "when you're number two, you have to try harder" commercials? I think their advertising should emphasize the store experience (more below), and push a sense of community. It's interesting that our local Applebee's now has the walls covered with local town sports teams, kids and families. They're differentiating themselves from the TGIF next door this way. While it's a bit crass, they could emphasize the "local bookstore" angle more.

3.And also extolls the virtues of brick & mortar stores that allow people to meet, relax, grab a bite to eat, and provide a venue where authors can meet fans and do readings, etc. Drive home the point that supporting Barnes & Noble is about preserving a literary lifestyle, not just purchasing products.

 

 

On this, I agree 100%. They should also be less conflicted about NOOK offers, so people go into the store even if they own a NOOK device. Once I went all electronic for reading, my B&N membership rarely ran an offer that made me consider stopping by the store. If the NOOK is their future, and the stores are their edge, make the two fully complementary.

 

I'm just a little conflicted, because it was B&N coming to town that killed off the actual mom & pop bookstores locally.

flyingtoastr
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Re: What does Nook need to do to survive?

[ Edited ]

A few months ago William Lynch gave an interview - I think it was with Fortune or Money or one of those other big business periodicals. The topic of the interview was "reinventing a business" and how BN had transitioned from a book retailer into a fairly successful tech company.

 

One of the points Lynch made was that you couldn't let the legacy business interfere with the new direction. That you had to be willing to let the new section of the company work independently of the old company bureaucracy. And in theory it is a good idea. Establishing a brand (like NOOK) just to prop up an older brand (BN B&M) wouldn't have been as successful. NOOK needed to be able to grow independently of the B&M business.

 

However, I think he missed the point that where good synergy exists, it should be encouraged.

 

BN has a single, unmatchable advantage over ever single other tablet vendor (outside of Apple) - their physical locations. They are in every state, are in good locations, and have a very strong and recognized brand identity. They cater to affluent and educated clientele with disposable income who already are used to paying for the content NOOK peddles. And they are something Amazon will never be able to match, no matter how much baldy gouges prices.

 

And they pay their NOOK employees minimum wage.

 

An Apple Genius averages a good $18 an hour. Their sales staff makes a still excellent $12 and a half an hour. Meanwhile, I'm expected to do both while simultaneously doing backup jobs in every other department of the store for $8.25 (with no bonus pay, benefits, profit sharing, or possibility of advancement outside of a quarter raise every October). That means that someone who is intelligent and good at what they do isn't going to stick around at BN - they're only going to be there as long as it takes to get a job that actually rewards them for their competence and passion.

 

And that's not a good thing. The store employees are often the first and last line of contact that customers will ever have with their NOOK. Though it's scoffed at a lot by the denizens of this forum, the in-person support that you can have with a NOOK is a huge selling point for a lot of customers, but BN seems intent on shooting themselves in the foot there. BN needs to be cultivating talent in their stores' NOOK departments - well trained, smart, friendly, and helpful people. They're going to lose those people - because they will go to companies like Apple who pay for their talents.

 

Having a competent NOOK specialist in every store would be a huge selling point for the entire platform. Think of the TV commercial - two people, one with a Kindle and one with a NOOK, who have a problem. The Kindle customer sits on the phone, then waits 3 days for a replacement device to come in the mail. The NOOK owner walks into a local store, and walks out with a fixed device a few minutes later. It sells itself! And again, Amazon simply can not match it.

 

Then go the extra step. Standardize training for NOOK employees - even going so far as having a mandatory certification test wouldn't be amiss. Invest enough payroll in the stores so that they can staff their NOOK departments, and maybe even enough so that there can be a true division of labor between tech support and sales (talent mapping is hard though). Hire people who are knowledgeable, passionate, and good at what they do. Communicate with them. And for god's sake, pay them a competitive wage so they actually have a vested interest in staying at the job.

 

And customers will notice. I had a lady walk into my new job before Christmas and exclaim "hey look it's the NOOK guy!". It creates a relationship not just between the customer and their device, but between the customer and the company. If there's a friendly face a few miles away who can help with any problem, and one who is there consistently, a customer will be a lot more willing to put up with issues that may arise. BN isn't selling a product with NOOK - they're selling a service. The product is fine, and interactions there will continue to improve it. But the complete lack of... anything... at the store level bothers me a lot. BN needs to care about after-the-sale a bit more, and the NOOK departments in their store are the best place to get it done.

 

And there you go. NOOK may not be the bestselling platform even after that, but it's got its killer app.

 

/ramble

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bobstro
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Re: What does Nook need to do to survive?

Baldy? Are ye no longer with B&N, FT?

 

I agree with you. I often say today that I'd recommend Apple to my friends and family simply because they can walk up to the genius bar instead of calling me on my weekends. I used to tell them to buy Dell computers because everything would work together, and they could have a tech come on-site to fix things. That "local help" aspect is important, especially if people are going to make large investments in content.

 

I do wonder what the store dynamic would be like if the NOOK person is suddenly making 25% more than everybody else, but you're right that retention would be a big help. In-store personnel have always been one of the few highlights of B&N support. (Phone support sure isn't!)

 

I can see the B&N commercial: Amazon user loses access to their music or movie collection and have to call in. Nook user drops by a shop.

 

I remember the picture at one of the closing Borders stores: No bathrooms. Try Amazon.

 

 

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5ivedom
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Re: What does Nook need to do to survive?

I think you're spot on Flying Toastr.

 

It's a big competitive differentiator for B&N and it's not being leveraged.

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EllenKeiff
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Re: What does Nook need to do to survive?

I said it in the other thread and I think it applies here.  In order to survive, they need better tech and better customer service.  So fire from the top and work your way down.

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roustabout
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Re: What does Nook need to do to survive?

"fire from the top"

 

Isn't that what Charles Whitman advocated?  

"no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution.
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bobstro
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Re: What does Nook need to do to survive?

A towering figure indeed.

flyingtoastr
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Re: What does Nook need to do to survive?

While I'm sure it's cathartic to say so, "fire everyone" isn't a remotely good idea. There are issues with BN's customer service, but eliminating their entire executive structure isn't going to fix anything.

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roustabout
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Re: What does Nook need to do to survive?

Comrade toaster recommends "eliminating their entire executive structure" with which I heartily agree.

 

We should act quickly, although not so quickly that the water cooling is overwhelmed.  

 

To avoid that risk, perhaps we could make use of a plank based solution -- more merciful, too, as the cannier survivors will make it to shore floating on improvised rafts made up of their co-workers, not unlike certain species of ants crossing rivers in the tropics.  

"no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution.
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bobstro
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Re: What does Nook need to do to survive?

Do we have a picture of Cmdr. FT in a beret? We need it for the tee-shirts.
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Schwa
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Re: What does Nook need to do to survive?

[ Edited ]

roustabout wrote:

Comrade toaster recommends "eliminating their entire executive structure" with which I heartily agree.



Um, I just wanted to point out that he didn't "recommend" that at all.

 

His actual quote is:

While I'm sure it's cathartic to say so, "fire everyone" isn't a remotely good idea. There are issues with BN's customer service, but eliminating their entire executive structure isn't going to fix anything.


I think that saying "it isn't a good idea" and doing so "isn't going to fix anything" is the furthest from a recommendation.

 

I now return you to your regularly scheduled thread...

flyingtoastr
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Re: What does Nook need to do to survive?

I think Roustabout was talking more towards my "let's pay all the employees a livable wage" rant.

 

Because making sure everyone can afford to eat makes you a communist in the US apparently.

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Schwa
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Re: What does Nook need to do to survive?

@JD57 (the OP):

 

Concerning the December sales figures:  I read these as didn't-meet-expectations, which is not the same as OMG-our-sales-sucked.  Then again I'm an optimist.  However I believe the stock report is due soon for Q3?  So we should know more then.

 

I agree with the rest of your topic, and others in this thread, that B&N really needs to step it up in marketing and content.  Personally, I'm content with my Nooks.  But the rest of the market is not me, and improving on what I already like wouldn't be so bad either.

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roustabout
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Re: What does Nook need to do to survive?

I was actually just having fun completely inverting the meaning via selective quotation.  I did not intend to and do not appear to have offended anyone, plus how else could I liken a horde of Noo Yawk execs lashed together with neckties and nylons into a corpulent raft to ants crossing the Amazon? 

 

With that said, I did just spend a few minutes with google images locating the t-shirtable image of Commandante Toastr - truly un hombre nuevo:

 

toaster 1.jpg

 

 

"no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution.
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Mercury_Glitch
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Re: What does Nook need to do to survive?


flyingtoastr wrote:

I think Roustabout was talking more towards my "let's pay all the employees a livable wage" rant.

 

Because making sure everyone can afford to eat makes you a communist in the US apparently.


 

Clearly we're all meant to get second jobs, or the brick and mortar stores are supposed to have such turn over that the only staff working there will be managers (long term) and high school / college students (short term). 

 

Because forcing a high turnover rate in their employees worked so well for CIrcuit City. 

The Wheel weaves as the Wheel wills, and we are only the thread of the Pattern.