Monday, July 20, 2015

Barnes and Noble is Going to Kill the Nook

Barnes & Noble appoints Chief Digital Officer, Frederic D. Argir, to lead E-Commerce and NOOK

Barnes & Noble appoints Chief Digital Officer, Frederic D. Argir, to lead E-Commerce and NOOK

The future of Barnes and Noble Nook e-books, e-readers and tablets looks to be in jeopardy. The Nations largest bookseller has just hired Fred Argir to run the Nook division and e-commerce division, replacing Mahesh Veerina who had run it for the last two years.

The Barnes and Noble Nook division is in serious trouble. They recently unveiled a massive upgrade to their website. The new design gives us a sense on what the bookseller is hoping to sell more of, which are lifestyle products, print and e-books. Unfortunately there are a number of bugs with e-books and Nook that are preventing people from reading and this is resulting in a fair amount of apathy.

When you are looking to buy a new book and haven't heard much about it, likely you want to check out the first few chapters with a digital sample. Barnes and Noble has an online reading platform called Nook for Web. Sadly, this system is totally broken and has not been revised to work in conjunction with the new B&N website. Users have also reported a myriad of problems with logging into their accounts and purchases randomly disappearing.

The Nook brand, which includes e-books, e-readers, tablets and accessories hasn’t been profitable under the watch of Mahesh. They have lost money every single quarter for the last two years,  and are down over a billion dollars since it first launched in 2010.

Whenever Barnes and Noble has hired high level executives to run the company they have always promoted people internally. This is the first time the bookseller has brought in two high ranking people, including new CEO Ron Boire from the outside. I have a feeling Ron and Fred will kill the Nook division because they are not loyal to it and will likely see it an essential cost cutting measure.

What does a gutted Nook division look like to the average e-book buyer? Likely the bookseller will stop making dedicated hardware, such as e-readers and tablets. Instead, the company will solely focus on their apps for Android, iOS and Windows to sell digital content. They will also promote their newly launched Nook Audiobooks app. Basically, all hardware will be killed off and Nook will pivot into being purely a digital content provider.

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