I’m often highly critical of Barnes & Noble. Part of the reason for that is due to the fact that because I love their hardware, I cringe when they make what appear to be stupid and short-sighted decisions. I also want at least one strong Amazon competitor. I don’t think Amazon having the vast majority of the e-book market is a good thing.
So a few months ago, when I saw Barnes & Noble had deeply discounted its Nooks in the UK, I cringed. Imagine my surprise when I read a recent Forbes blog post that seemed to show I had cringed prematurely.
I assumed the sale was a way to clear inventory, but apparently I was wrong. From the Forbes piece:
“It’s easy to say that this was a firesale of stock, but that would be the wrong lesson to draw from the change in strategy, as [Blackwell’s Digital Director, Matthew] Cashmore pushes on. ‘This was not about clearing stock – this was about putting as many eReaders into readers’ hands as possible so that people could see what a good eReader it was. The success of that has been demonstrated in continued exceptionally strong sales.'”
The article goes on to say that the strong sales are not just of e-readers but also of e-books.
And why did they choose Nook? “Blackwell’s chose the Nook because it was the best eReader,” according to the article.
OK, “best” is a relative term, and we could get into an endless discussion about whether the Nook really is the “best” e-reader, but I’m delighted that someone else recognizes the strength of the hardware. If B&N and Nook Media can continue to find good ways to get its devices into reader’s hands and continue to sell e-books, we’ll continue to have competition. Which means we’ll continue to see good devices and innovation in the industry.
(Hey, Paul St John Mackintosh: While you’re hanging around the book fairs, care to do some informal polling and see if the readers you’re talking to agree?)