The Importance of Barnes & Noble to the Publishing Future

There are some excellent articles coming out with year-end predictions for the changing book publishing landscape.

Personally, I think one of the more important dominos to watch within print publishing will be the Q4 results from Barnes & Noble, especially with their brick & mortar performance. If the combination of high investment in the digital Nook blends with declining performance in the core retail segment for B&N, then expect more store closings, which in turn hurts the sales performance of the top-200 print books from the Big Six. This is very similar to what happened to Kodak within the photo industry (e.g., managing the shift from print dominance and volumes via global multi-access retail to new digital competition and lower margins within the disrupted market space).

If this happens, look for Microsoft to increase its investment in the B&N Nook, especially given its own lacklustre tablet performance versus Samsung, Google, and Apple thus far. (Remember — there is room for two dominant players in any market space; after that, the pickings get tough.) This should also help good indie booksellers regain lost brick-and-mortar market share as they already have the correct (new normal?) amount of physical retail space for the future of print book volumes. The end-game for B&N may well be a spinoff.

This Web site below is an excellent aggregator of news coming from the digital publishing world. I am certain I am wrong so please read what others have to say!

Happy New Year!

Best wishes — Caleb Mason (Publerati)

10 thoughts on “The Importance of Barnes & Noble to the Publishing Future

  1. Hi Publerati: I think I already read something recently saying the B&N store sales were not going well in Q4. If I find it I will post. Thanks for your blog post — never really thought about the “room for two dominant players” in any market but I suppose that mostly rings true. Tide and Cheer, Pepsi and Coke, Dell and HP, etc.

  2. While I agree that there is often room for just two main brands within any market space, the book industry is more fragmented than many others. A better analogy might be pharmacies and banks where there are several strong market players. Having said that, I do agree that if Barnes closes more stores it will cause returns to spike among the blockbuster titles for the largest publishers, and that will not be good.

  3. So instead Pearson just invested in the Nook. Microsoft may realize that single-purpose ereaders have no future (remember the Palm Pilots?). B&N is scheduled to release disappointing results from the brick and mortar front and Nook front on Jan 3rd. I do not understand why Pearson would think they belong in the highly competitive hardware business. That business is proving difficult enough for everyone other than Apple so far.

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