This past holiday season, e-readers were flying off of store shelves. While consumers (and investors alike) assumed that all was going swimmingly for the likes of Amazon and Barnes and Noble, this may not have been the actual case for Barnes and Noble. After adjusting the company’s earnings forecast, investors realized that the Barnes and Noble Nook is not selling as well as once though. In fact, it turns out, Barnes and Noble is actually losing money when it comes to Nook sales.
What’s a company like Barnes and Noble to do when e-reader sales don’t justify the costs of creating and maintain a device like the Nook? Well, there are a few options. The option that has hit the front pages of newspapers and tech blogs around the globe is a pure separation between Barnes and Noble and the Nook section of the company. By separating the two, Barnes and Noble could gain investor dollars that would go towards helping with Nook costs.
Separating the Nook from the Barnes and Noble empire is one way to approach the problem of an overly expensive, and none too profitable, device. The other option is to sell off the Nook entity in its entirety to investors. This would mean that Barnes and Noble would no longer have any real grip on the Nook business. Either way, it seems as though Barnes and Noble will have no choice but to find a solution to the ailing Nook problem.
Investors could help Barnes and Noble with Nook finances, but a better question is: will investors contribute funds to a device that isn’t selling? Some investors may see Nook’s potential, but it certainly looks like Amazon is winning the e-book competition. To be fair, it would be tough for any company to compete with the likes of Amazon in the e-reader market. Amazon does, after all, have more content available than almost any other company out there.
Not Ready to Let Go
Even though Barnes and Noble could profit from selling the Nook business to the public, reports from Barnes and Noble execs state that the company is not willing or ready to sell off the Nook quite yet. In consideration, not wanting to sell the Nook completely makes a good deal of sense. After all, the e-book market is a huge one for any large book seller at the moment, and more and more consumers are looking to e-book devices in lieu of actual hardcopies or paperbacks. Not offering consumers an e-book option might hurt Barnes and Noble’s business in its entirety.
It will be interesting to see where Barnes and Noble turns with the Nook problem. Further, it will be fun to watch the expansion of the e-reader market in the near future. As mentioned, it will be hard for any company to compete with Amazon’s content abilities, but there is certainly room on the e-reader market for new devices. If you are considering investing in a new industry, take a look at the e-reader market. Right now, Amazon is a top contender, but you never know what company may come up with an e-reader next.