November 8, 2011

It’s war: B&N takes it to Amazon in the battle to forget about print retail


While you can read all about the new Barnes & Noble tablet, and how it measures up against the Amazon tablet, in lots of places, to us it’s just another one of those stories about Godzilla vs. Mothra, and it will all be moot in a few months when we move on to the next update of the relevant widget. It’s fun to wonder if they are going to price themselves out of business, but, well, Amazon should have done that years ago and somehow they continue to lose staggering amounts of money and stay in business. So even that little reverie is pretty much meaningless.

But there is one thing to note about yesterday’s big announcement, which was held at B&N’s flagship store in Union Square, Manhattan: an account at Publishers Marketplace (subscription only) notes that the Union Square B&N, at least, has put books back in the front of the store, where it had, over a year ago, turned over thousands of square feet to the display of, well, one thing — the Nook (as we have observed here before). B&N has moved the “Nook Boutique” further back in the store, returning what had been the part of the store where they sold the most books, back to selling books.

God knows how good the new Nook tablet is, but it’s good to see the company seems concerned again with running a proper bookstore — at least, as long as they still have brick-and-mortar stores … and isn’t the surprisingly aggressive release of the Nook tablet (by all accounts, a far better tablet than Amazon’s, if more expensive) a sign that if all goes well, that won’t be long?

Dennis Johnson is the founder of MobyLives, and the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House. Follow him on Twitter at @mobylives