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Barnes & Noble taps new CEO as revamped B&N e-commerce site hinders access to e-books
July 2, 2015 | 7:02 pm

Earlier today, Fortune reported that Barnes & Noble has tapped Sears Canada CEO Ron Boire to take over as B&N's CEO. Boire has been the CEO of the struggling Sears Canada for just 10 months, but before that he was the head of the USA Sears & Kmart chains for three years. Before that, Boire had worked at Sony, Best Buy, and Toys’R’Us—not exactly a list of winners in the recent economy. And now they expect him to turn Barnes & Noble around? [Update: As Nate pointed out in the comments, the Fortune article is really badly constructed. It...

Does anyone even want cross-platform e-book interoperability?
June 6, 2015 | 6:06 am

padlockProprietary e-book formats have been around for quite some time. Most major commercial vendors use proprietary formats to one extent or another, be they Amazon’s Kindle format or the proprietary DRM that Barnes & Noble and others put on top of EPUB. Given that they help to chill competition and keep Amazon firmly on the top of the e-book hill, they are generally not accounted to be a good thing by publishing industry activists. But I ran across a provocative post at Digital Book World suggesting that they might actually be a good thing after all. Joshua Tallent says...

Why NOT self-publish exclusively through Amazon?
September 19, 2014 | 7:50 pm

I first saw a post by Hugh Howey discussing the potential cost versus befits of going exclusive with Amazon a few days ago. I was thinking of saying something about it, but it kind of takes on added significance with the news about Barnes & Noble removing the “Download” button from its e-book library. Howey’s post is worth reading, but lends itself to easy summarizing. Essentially, Amazon provides a number of added benefits and incentives to writers who publish exclusively via Amazon either temporarily or continually: free giveaway days, or inclusion in e-book subscription services such as the...

Barnes & Noble removes ability to download its e-books outside of the Nook ecosystem
September 18, 2014 | 9:54 pm

I’m hesitant to believe this story Nate’s reporting, even after clicking the links and reading the sources for myself. How could anyone in the modern e-book market be this dumb? But the writing seems to be on the wall. Barnes & Noble has removed the “Download” button from its e-book library,  [Update: Nate’s posted another piece indicating B&N cited “security” as the reason for the change.] It’s no longer possible to download a book directly from the B&N web site to your hard drive by saving it from your B&N e-book library through your browser. And that...

(Brief) Hands on with the new Samsung Galaxy Tab Nook
August 20, 2014 | 2:14 pm

Samsung Galaxy Tab NookI wandered over to my local Barnes & Noble to play with the Samsung Galaxy Tab Nook and see what I thought. Nate at The Digital Reader actually bought one, so if you have questions or want to see what he has to say, pop over to his post. I'll start with the good. It's a nice looking device, and the screen is better than I expected. The pixel density is supposed to be lower than the Nood HD, but in a side-by-side comparison, I didn't notice a difference. The screen brightness is impressive. The store's Nook was set at less than...

Authors lost the book war long before Amazon vs. Hachette
June 19, 2014 | 12:28 pm

publishersI meant to cover this piece from The Weeklings when it popped up on The Passive Voice the other day. To my surprise, it’s reprinted on the normally rabid pro-publisher/anti-Amazon Salon Magazine this morning, so I guess I have no excuse now. In this article, J.E. Fishman traces authorial woes all the way back to the 1930s when Penguin began to flood the market with cheap paperbacks. This kicked off a paperback revolution among US publishers. Through all of this disruption no one asked authors what they thought. When it came to business, authors were...

Neil Gaiman ‘pissed at Amazon’ but not so sure about Hachette either
June 16, 2014 | 1:04 pm

GaimanWell, here’s another Salon Amazon hit piece, at least sort of. Salon chose to headline it, “Neil Gaiman: ‘I’m obviously pissed at Amazon’” but if you read the actual article, you find the quote was taken out of context. Gaiman feels that the anti-trust prosecution against the five major publishers and Apple was a bad move, but on the matter of Amazon versus Hachette, he is actually ambivalent: I’m a weird mixture right now, because on the one hand, I’m obviously pissed at Amazon. I’m a Hachette author in the U.K., my wife is a Hachette author now, and I’m very...

Robinson-Patman, Amazon, the publishers, and the ABA: Where’s the lawsuit? (Updated)
June 3, 2014 | 3:16 pm

Two different op-eds have popped up on CNN and Al Jazeera suggesting that Amazon, big bully that it is in the Hachette negotiation, needs to be taken down a peg under the Robinson-Patman Act. (If you didn’t hear a raspy voice say “I’m Patman” when I mentioned the name of that law, I’m pretty sure you did just now.) Robinson-Patman is an anti-predatory-pricing regulation that’s on the books dating back to the ‘30s, intended to prevent businesses from charging different prices in different towns to undercut local competition, or from using their size to bully suppliers into giving...

Publishers, Amazon, and competition: Three points of view
June 1, 2014 | 11:00 am

There’s a theme in the triad of Amazon/Hachette articles I found this morning, and the theme is…competition. First of all, here’s a rare op ed in favor of Amazon that originally appeared in CNN’s “Fortune” section. (Though it seems to have vanished from there; the link no longer works and the author reposted it on his own blog.) Len Sherman rebuts an earlier anti-Amazon piece by Adam Lashinsky and argues that Hachette’s background as an illegal colluder suggests it is more interested in keeping prices high, whereas Amazon wants to keep them lower for consumers. ...

How to upgrade the Nook HD to Kit Kat with Cyanogenmod
May 31, 2014 | 4:59 pm

Screenshot_2014-05-31-16-44-33Ever since I got my Nexus 7, my Nook HD has been kind of languishing. I’d upgraded it to the most recent Jelly Bean Cyanogenmod version a while back, but I was curious: what might Kit Kat be like on it? Could I run it? Given that I had the Nexus, I wasn’t in danger of losing my only Android tablet solution if I screwed it up, so I figured, why not break me off a piece? I found some not terribly user-friendly instructions, puzzled my way through them, and commenced. It worked for me, so I’m going to tell you...

Can publishers win if they dare?
May 31, 2014 | 12:29 pm

primematrixDare - dare to believe you can survive You hold the future in your hand Dare - dare to keep all of your dreams alive It's time to take a stand And you can win, if you dare —Stan Bush, “Dare” That seems to be the chorus that publisher advocates are singing these days: as publishers fight against the evil market-devouring Amazon much as the Transformers fought the evil world-devouring Unicron, the publishers...

Is Barnes & Noble stock underpriced?
May 27, 2014 | 10:58 am

Barron’s has an article by Andrew Bary (paywalled; bypass with Google News) suggesting that Barnes & Noble stock is currently badly underpriced. Trading around $18 right now, Bary argues, B&N could be worth $36 based on the value of the company’s assets alone, especially if B&N follows through on cutting its losses (especially with regard to the Nook) and improving efficiency. What benefits might accrue to B&N shareholders? Bary suggests B&N could split up into three separate companies—bookstores, college bookstores, and Nook—though given the improvements to Nook’s bottom line, this might be unlikely to happen any time soon. Or...

Konrath vs. Stross on the Amazon/Hachette affair
May 27, 2014 | 4:37 am

So, more people have chimed in on the Amazon/Hachette thing. Most notably, Charlie Stross has blogged about it. Given that he’s published by Orbit, a subsidiary of Hachette, it’s understandable that his point of view is rather similar to Lilith Saintcrow’s: Amazon is a “malignant monopoly” engaging in predatory pricing, bullying Hachette, and so forth. Joe Konrath and pseudonymous guest blogger William Ockham have a different point of view. Konrath posted an essay to his blog in which they demolish Stross’s arguments point by point. Most of it is the same argument/counter-argument we’ve been hearing over and...

Sneaking books into bookstores is not a good idea
May 25, 2014 | 10:36 am

Here’s another one from the “probably not a good idea” department. Self-published writer Brendan Leonard had a bright idea: he might see if he could get his book more exposure by planting it in a Barnes & Noble store. All that was necessary for it to ring up was to have an ISBN bar code on it, which it did. He then had the idea to use it as an Instagram promotional gimmick: place books in various stores and post their location to Instagram so people could go buy them. Granted that he was giving money away by giving his...

Updated: ‘Amazon Derangement Syndrome’ characterizes dispute between Amazon and Hachette
May 24, 2014 | 12:36 am

So, there’s a thing. Over on The Passive Voice, and some other blogs with similar points of view, they refer to it as “Amazon Derangement Syndrome (ADS),” for the way a certain class of people seem to like to run around like chickens with their heads cut off whenever the evil Amazon does another evil thing evilly. Now, I’ll grant that ADS might not be the best term to go around using if you want to engage in serious discourse, given that the sort of people who toss it around are likely to be just as opinionated in...

Amazon vs. Hachette: Theories and opinions
May 14, 2014 | 5:30 pm

So, Amazon vs. Hachette. There’s a thing. One multibillion dollar company versus another in a contract negotiation, Amazon delaying availability of Hachette books, authors getting caught in the middle, and we’re supposed to root for the publisher because Amazon is, of course, evil. Right. Publishers Weekly has a pretty informative and more or less neutral article looking at the matter and putting it in perspective of the publishers’ antitrust settlement and subsequent renegotiation windows. Hachette will be the first of the publishers to get to renegotiate its contract with Apple, in October 2015, and undoubtedly Amazon wants to...

What if Amazon bought Barnes & Noble?
March 14, 2014 | 11:12 am

There’s a peculiar phenomenon by which year-old articles sometimes show up again in news aggregators and social network feeds that for some reason see the month and day part of the date and miss the year. (It’s gotten me in trouble before.) But today it brings up an interesting blog post I missed the first time around. And while a lot has changed since the post was written in March 2013, it still bears a little bit of thinking about: might or should Amazon buy the struggling Barnes & Noble? There’s been a lot of speculation...

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