Books written by Ray Sullivan

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Could Microsoft Buy Nook?

Barnes & Noble are fighting an uphill battle, as are many of the traditional bookstores world-wide.  To be fair to B&N they recognised that the future of literature involved a heavy helping of eBooks and consequently invested in their eBookstore and launched generation after generation of ground breaking Nook eReaders.

The only mis-step I can see is that they took too long to establish themselves in the UK.  We may not be the largest eBook market on the planet - that's the US - but we're pretty big players.  They had an opportunity a year and a half ago when they were being wooed by Waterstones, a  UK bookseller filling a similar market segment to B&N.  I have no idea what went wrong - possibly they were a little too alike - but B&N didn't sign up and Waterstones started to stock Kindles, for goodness sake.

That brief outburst of frustration is not that there is anything wrong with Kindles - I have one and think it's great, I use the Kindle app on my Microsoft RT too. Technically I have it on my Nexus, but as I can't get past the cracked startup screen I don't count that one.  No, my frustration is due to Waterstones badmouthing Amazon and their overt attempts at ruling the eBook world.  If I didn't know better, I'd say I was writing copy for Waterstones back then, certainly I didn't have the monopoly on concern over Amazon.  But, the deal with B&N apparently gone south, Waterstones jumped into bed with Amazon even though their online eBookstore sells ePubs, not Kindle books.  Talk about mixed messages.

Anyway, B&N are struggling, have been for a couple of years.  They design their eReaders in-house, which is ballsy for a bookseller - it must be all those electronics books on the shelves - and they've been building them themselves too.  Now that does surprise me - I assume they are the first tier in the production chain, working with whichever factories produce their products, but now they are looking for someone to take over the whole production process.  They're still going to continue to design them in-house though, at least for the time being.

They'd be long gone, I reckon, if it hadn't been for a couple of handouts - or investments as the market probably calls them - and one of these was from Microsoft.  But the road is still very bumpy and there's a lot of concern about the future viability of B&N eReaders.  Speculation is that Microsoft may be muscling in for a takeover.

It makes a lot of sense, assuming B&N are truly up to their neck in muck.  Microsoft would get a foot in the eBook market, another step towards erasing the Apple differentiation and one that sits well with the Xbox music.  Also, the platform could be used to launch further Windows 8 tablets - maybe there's still life in RT after all?  And it keeps B&N as a viable entity in the eBook world and I for one would be grateful.  I'm unlikely to buy a B&N product right now - as I said they left it late launching in the UK and I'm up to my ears in Kindles, Microsoft Surfaces and cracked Google Nexii right now, but in another time I might consider it.  As an author who sells a proportion of his books through the B&N network to their clearly discerning readers, I want them to continue , if only to challenge Amazon.

The sale price is rumoured to be in the region of $1 billion, which suggests B&N aren't out of the game yet.  My guess is that Microsoft will be looking to get in before the main holiday sales push - there's only one real time to gain market share and that time is coming up in a few months.  So we should know before September  is out.


                                                          Visit my Book Website here

        Visit Project: Evil Website here                                        Visit DLF Website here

        Follow me on Twitter  - @RayASullivan

        Join me on Facebook -  use to find me

No comments:

Post a Comment