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comixology

Comixology is the largest digital comics distribution platform on iOS, Android and Windows 8. The company has been going strong since 2007 and their technology powers the reading apps from Marvel, DC, Archie, and has every single comic and graphic novel of the Walking Dead. Last week, Amazon announced they acquired Comixology. This did not really surprise anyone who keeps tabs on the digital comic industry, but did Apple, B&N and Kobo miss the boat?

When it comes to selling comic books online, Amazon, Apple, B&N, Kobo, Google and many other players all sell them. Surprisingly most only sell graphic novels, instead of single issue comics. Graphic novels usually comprise of 6 issues of a series and make it easier than purchasing each one separately. This appeals to more casual readers, but hardcore readers often choose Comixology to stay on top of all of the new releases every Wednesday. The only notable exception is DC making a new agreement with Google to carry new single issue comics on the Google Books Store.

Why did Barnes & Noble, iBooks or Kobo not pursue this deal? This could have been game changers for those companies and it could have appealed to the people who have downloaded over 215 million comics from Comixology. Industry experts have speculated that the B&N executive team is not forward thinking enough to actually go through with it and they have their own turmoil in the executive ranks to think about. Kobo is exclusively focused on international expansion and Apple is only concerned with making the 30% royalty on in-app purchases and selling stuff on iTunes.

If there was a single company to benefit the most from Comixology, it was Amazon.  The Seattle based company had developed comic technology called Panel View option for fixed layout illustrated ebooks. This attempt was clearly trying to clone the far superior Guided View from Comixology.  Amazon also does not allow high resolution images in KF8 FXL files, which is their file format to emulate EPUB3, but also appealing to more visual and interactive titles. Considering Amazon is putting a priority on high resolution displays on the Kindle Fire HDX line of tablets, the deal  with Comixology deal solves all of these issues.

I really feel like Barnes and Noble and Kobo really missed a golden oportonity to purchase Comixology.  Both of them would have been better caretakers of the comic company and could have benefited from something no one else had. The deep pockets of Kobo owned Rakuten could have financed the deal and could  have added the last piece of the puzzle to their trifecta of eBooks, Kids titles and magazines. Barnes and Noble could have really had a great content distribution system that is a proven revenue earner to offset the losses on Nook hardware and eBooks.

Categories : Digital Comic News
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Barnes and Noble has just announced the first big discount on their latest generation e-reader. The Nook Glowlight came out late last year and really improved the hardware, putting the front-lit display on par with the Kindle Paperwhite. Today, the Nation’s largest bookseller has announced a price drop from $119 to $99 for a limited time.

The Barnes and Noble Nook Glowlight features a six inch IR touchscreen display with a resolution of 1024 X 758-pixel and 212 PPI. This is a huge upgrade from the previous generation Nook that only had 800×600 for the resolution. Under heavy tests we noticed that the blacks were deeper in cover art and the way fonts look when you maximize their levels.

The Glowlight technology that allow you to read in the dark has been dramatically enhanced. B&N still continues the philosophy of bucking the major industry trend of putting the LED lights on the top of the device, instead of the bottom. Overall, the light is now almost pure white, where the NST with Glowlight would often have a blue hue to it. The entire Good e-Reader review team think that that the new model has 75% brighter and clearer lighting.

All Barnes and Noble retail stores will be offering the discount starting today. You may also elect to purchase it online from the official Nook website. The deal is going to transpire until April 13th, so time is of the essence.


Categories : e-reader, e-Reader News
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Barnes and Noble has sent out an email to customers who have purchased eBooks from April 1, 2010 and May 21, 2012. The Nations largest bookseller has said that credits will be available in customers accounts within the next few days.

Anyone who has purchased an eBook from Hachette, Macmillan, Penguin and Simon & Schuster will have $3.17 for New York Times Bestsellers and $0.73 for a normal eBook. The credits can be used to purchase any eBook you want for B&N and the credits will be adjusted to the total purchase price. You might not want to wait too long to use the credits, as they expire next April.

Emails were sent out today, but they are staggered, so you might not receive them right away. Generally, it will outline exactly how much credits you can expect to receive. For a list of your book purchases that qualified for a credit, please visit the Title Lookup Page.

The eBook Settlement is the result of an antitrust lawsuit filed by the State Attorneys General and Class Plaintiffs about the price of electronic books (“eBooks”). Settlements were reached with publishers Hachette, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, and Penguin in 2013.

Categories : e-reader, e-Reader News
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Barnes and Noble is seeking to retool the Nook division and to stem the tide of declining revenue. The company has lost over a billion dollars since they first unveiled the Nook e-Reader back in 2011. They are hoping to solve the situation by firing a large percentage of their workforce, capitalizing on digital sales and releasing a new tablet.

Since fiscal 2014 began, approximately 190 NOOK positions have been eliminated both through reductions and attrition. The bookseller has spent over $2.4 million dollars on severance packages, but should save money in the long-term. Most of these positions were in the hardware and programming departments. Currently, even with these reductions Nook has 500 people currently working in that division. Likely, further layoffs are anticipated to happen during the year.

Last quarter Barnes and Noble sold $50 million dollars worth of digital content, which incorporates apps, books, magazines and videos. In the US, the bookseller controls roughly about 20% of the eBook market, whereas a year ago they had 27%. The bookseller is hoping to capitalize on more international distribution via Microsoft to boost revenue. This is a good model, because it is not reliant on internal staff to promote and market the Nook Reading app for Microsoft, the Redmond company is doing a fine job at hyping it.

Finally, Barnes and Noble announced plans for a new Nook tablet to be released sometime this year. If we look at past trends, it will likely come out in October, to gear up promotional efforts both online and in the retail stores for the pivotal holiday season. Nothing is really known about the tablet yet, but there are rumors that the company will be dealing with Foxconn to manufacture the devices and their California R&D division will handle the design.

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Massive change is being sparked in the publishing industry, thanks to the enterprising–and exhausting–work of authors who’ve taken it upon themselves to share sales information with the intention of helping authors make informed decisions where publishing opportunities are involved. Authors like HM Ward and Hugh Howey have been as transparent as they can be about their own sales and publishing opportunities in order to present a clearer picture of what publishing looks like in 2014.

Now, AuthorEarnings.com has released its report on Barnes and Noble activity where Nook Press sales are concerned. The data, which can be found HERE, highlights the percentages of bestselling titles that were published via both traditional and self-publishing routes, as well as small press and indie press houses. This report indicates that, of the top 5,000 ebooks in the Nook store, self-published bestselling titles made up more than half of the bestsellers.

The report goes on to breakdown the data for both authors and consumers, with the ultimate goal remaining affording people in the industry to make the informed decisions. Working solely on presumptions and unfounded theories about how self-published titles fare–both for better or for worse–doesn’t help anyone.

The industry as whole and in all its manifestations needs to adopt an air of openness and transparency that other industries have already made standard. Unfortunately, data like these reports, while vital to informed business practices for both authors and publishers, may eventually result in greater access to accurate sales data, but for now are only drawing ire from the industry’s critics.

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Barnes and Noble is a company in transition, when it comes to their floundering Nook Media division. In the last two months they have announced the departures of Jim Hilt – Vice President of eBooks, digital products director Jamie Iannone and VP of digital products Bill Saperstein. A myriad of other people have left, including the head of accessories and most of the hardware developers. The big reason these executives have left is primarily due to the fact that Nook Media has lost over a billion dollars since 2010.

Barnes and Noble is quite transparent when it comes to their financial earnings and hold nothing back from investor calls and their reporting. Normally, their end of the year reports come out every April and there is some bleak news. In 2011 the company lost 209 million, in 2012 they lost 261 million and in 2013 they increased the losses to 475 million. If we look at the quarter ending on July 27, 2013 they reported loses of 55 million and October 26, 2013 NOOK lost 45 million. If you add all of these figures together it comes to over 1 billion dollars.

It is painfully obvious that Barnes and Noble was making too many units and not selling enough. This resulted in dramatic price drops just to move the inventory. The executives are firmly to blame with none of their e-readers sold nearly as much as the Nook Color, their first tablet and their first/second generation e-ink display with a color LCD on the bottom.

Amazon, Apple and Kobo all got involved in the e-reader and tablet space roughly around the same time Barnes and Noble first started making devices. All of these companies are extreamly profitable and rarely have a quarter in which they are in the red. Why? They poach executives away from rivals, and have great leadership. This is evident in the products they release and the marketing they put into it. Can you ever say you saw a sexy Barnes and Noble television commercial?

I have no idea how a company can lose over a billion dollars and still be in business. It makes 0 sense with the largest bookstore in the USA to serve as a retail showcase can be in this much trouble. Obviously, there are plenty of ideas on how to turn things around, instead Barnes and Noble appoints the VP of Marketing Doug Carlson to lead the eBook crew. Here is an idea, hire from the outside, to bring fresh new ideas. A herd of spitting camels, is still a herd of spitting camels, no matter who the alpha of the group is.

Feb
21

Is Barnes and Noble for Sale?

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Barnes and Noble has received a viable offer to buy their entire bookstore business from G Asset Management. They have proposed a complete buyout at a deal valued at $672 million. If they are unable to go through on this deal, their secondary offer is to buy a 51% stake in Nook Media.

There are plenty of barriers in place to prevent the sale of the last major bookstore in the USA. Len Riggio, chairman of B&N wanted to take the company private and was willing to pay big money to do it. The threat of shareholder lawsuits put the kibosh on his plans.

G Asset Management has had their sights on Barnes and Noble for quite awhile. They originally wanted to buy the College Bookstore division in 2012, and has been vocal at splitting Nook away from Barnes and Noble.

Barnes and Noble is a bookstore on the decline. The stores are profitable but Nook Media has been bleeding month for over a year. This prompted the exodus of all senior executives in charge of Nook. The head of eBooks, the head of hardware and head of accessories have all left the company and a new CEO has taken the helm. Interesting enough, the current CEO comes from a financial background, which makes the likelihood of a sale more realistic now, than under the previous regime.

What are the current barriers to sell the company? It is thought that Len Riggio controls 45% of the company and he would have to OK the deal in order for it go though. The Asset Management company also does not actually have the money to buy Barnes and Noble, instead they would have to raise it themselves.

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The book industry has certainly been overwhelmed since the beginning of 2014 with information gleaned from author surveys on their satisfaction with publishing, in all of its forms. The first survey, conducted by Digital Book World and Writer’s Digest magazine, already contained a mild slant given that the thousands of survey respondents were subscribers to a decidedly pro-traditional industry publication. The second survey, published by Author Earnings, polled 900 authors on their publishing mode, their numbers of books published, the “ballpark” figure of their earnings last year, and their future publishing decisions.

But why isn’t anyone saying what we all want to hear: How many books did you sell?

The answer is they can’t. It’s a little known fact that the terms of service for both Amazon and Barnes and Noble prohibit openly discussing exact sales figures, even for self-published authors; Kobo’s terms of service cannot be discussed as they pertain to this article because the Writing Life terms of service forbid even disclosing what’s contained in the terms of service. This disclosure for all companies apparently even extends to so much as a lowly blog or Facebook post, preventing a self-published author from even sharing with his own followers that he’s celebrating the sale of his 100th copy of his book, for exmaple.

Author Susan Wingate found that out the hard way. After posting on her own blog in June of 2013 information that showed (in general numbers) that she was selling more titles on Barnes and Noble than Amazon, her account was blocked by Amazon. Their reason was for violating the terms of service, specifically relating to KDP Select. Rather than block access to the three titles enrolled in KDP Select, Amazon blocked the author’s access to her entire account, including the twenty-one other books that she had written and that were not part of Select.

This begs the question, why is the industry so afraid of open transparency where book sales are concerned? Is there some fear of competition among publishers? Is it the perception that a heavily invested and industry-supported title must not be that good if the sales aren’t meeting public expectations? Is it simply a belief that control of data is the lifeblood of these companies?

When JK Rowling published her first Robert Gilbraith novel, the sales were unimpressive at only 1,500 copies the first month; of course, the number skyrocketed when the author’s true identity was revealed, selling out the book in bookstores and requiring additional print runs. Obviously, the discovery that the book hadn’t sold enough copies to even pay for the printing wasn’t a deterrent to readers who wanted another title by a popular author, so guarding the information on sales figures didn’t matter in the minds of the readers.

The surveys, while incomplete–and in once case, prohibitively expensive–do still serve to spark the discussion that authors like JA Konrath, HM Ward, and Hugh Howey have been igniting for some time. Transparency isn’t a threat to authors, and not to anyone else in the book industry. It actually serves to help authors understand which publishing decisions are right for them. The only people who stand to benefit from keeping a tight lid on data would be people who have something to hide, or worse, a means of making money off the backs of people who don’t have all of the information.


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Barnes and Noble has fired most of their hardware engineering division last Thursday, according to one source. This follows Barnes & Noble dismissing the VP of Hardware, Bill Saperstein in January. The head of Nook Accessories, Jacqueline Corso, was also let go last week. It looks like B&N is initiating the Clean Sweep protocol, as new CEO Michael Huseby is likely appointing his own cabinet into the upper echelons of management.

The Barnes and Noble portfolio of e-Readers and Tablets have seen cumitive loses each financial quarter in 2013. The entire hardware division was down 32.2% on a year-over-year basis. Most of the Nook management team mentioned that the bookstore chain should just axe it. One of the last proclamations that former CEO William Lynch made, was that the company was getting out of hardware, only to flip flop and say they were going to continue to make e-readers.

Barnes and Noble is expanding on their Nook Study platform and the entire program is undergoing a revision. They have brought over Roger Bishoff, formerly of Microsoft, into the role of Engineering Manager. He will be spearheading the entire digital Nook Education endeavor. Likely, the College and University bookstore chain of B&N will promote the digital aspect as early as the Fall.

Many of the new hires for B&N educational unit are actually based in the Seattle area. They are actively seeking new candidates to work in Redmond, which is a firm indication that Microsoft might be playing a role in this whole program.

The vast majority of Barnes and Nobles programs are in serious jeopardy. Their App market has been relegated into obscurity with the inclusion of Google Play and their self-publishing platform, Nook Press has not made any announcements since it originally launched last year.

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Critics and industry speculators have been saying the same thing for far too long: Barnes and Noble is in trouble. And with the announcement that its third executive in the Nook division has left the company–most recently Jim Hilt, head of global ebook sales, and before him digital products director Jamie Iannone and VP of digital products Bill Saperstein–coupled with the disappointing holiday season sales and announcements of store closings, it’s easy to see why the rumors gain steam.

Following assurances to Good e-Reader from VP Theresa Horner only last October that B&N is fully committed to the Nook division, the company unveiled a brand-new dedicated e-reader. And certainly doing a year-on-year comparison of the 2013 holiday shopping season is a little unfair when taken into account that 2012 saw two brand-new Nook tablets roll out just in time for Christmas. But without plans at this time to replace these lost digital leadership positions at B&N, is the Nook division without direction?

Statements from within the company have promised once again the Barnes and Noble is committed to the Nook division and will be aggressively driving growth. The international rollout is taking longer than anticipated, with Nook still focused in the US, UK, and now Australia (some additional global markets can access the Nook ebook store through specific tablet apps, however), but at a time when there’s a high rate of turnover within the digital division, maintaining a slow but steady pace of international growth may be the smarter move to take.

Update: Mary Ellen Keating of Barnes and Noble released the following statement. “I can confirm that Bill Saperstein is no longer with the Company. Bill was instrumental in helping us develop our successful brand of NOOK devices. We thank him for his many contributions and wish him well in the future. We believe we have a strong management team in place at NOOK having recruited significant new talent, including Mahesh Veerina, Chief Operating Officer of NOOK Media. The new NOOK management team is focused on managing the business efficiently so that it becomes financially strong while at the same time aggressively moving to drive revenue growth.”

She went on to say “Jim Hilt will be leaving the Company sometime in February. We want to thank Jim for his contributions to the eBook business. With respect to digital content, this team is being led by Doug Carlson, EVP of Digital Content and Marketing. We have no additional personnel announcements at this time.”

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The eBook market has blossomed over the course of the last four years.  In the United States nearly 8.5 million adults, 18% of the population, have bought at least one e-book. There are hundreds of bookstores that sell electronic books online, some are very niche specific and others sell everything under the sun.  Good e-Reader Research is reporting today that Amazon and Kobo are basically tied as being the online bookstore of choice for hardcore readers.

Good e-Reader conducted a one month research project where we polled 250 people about their favorite online bookstore of choice. Good e-Reader users tend to be savvy, well educated and not afraid of new technologies. These are basically the hardcore users that often buy 50-100 books a year and often have more than one e-reader in the household.

Amazon and Kobo were tied with 35.34% of the overall votes and these two stores have the largest international footprint. They exist in over 30 different countries and offer millions of titles. Kobo has a much larger library of titles, with over 3.6 million available, they are also easier for people to buy books from. One of the advantages these two companies have  is their extensive portfolio of e-readers and tablets to facilitate reading. The Kindle Fire and Kobo Arc line of Android devices are perfect for reading newspapers, magazines, comics, kids, cookbooks and content that shines in living color. Hardcore Fiction and Non-Fiction readers tend to gravitate more towards the Kindle Paperwhite and Kobo Aura.

It is no surprise that Kobo and Amazon are basically tied, as they do offer the more extensive library of content, whether you are using one of their devices or install the app on your iPad.

Barnes and Noble might be seeing a 30% decline on their hardware and eBook sales during the past holiday season, but they they do have user loyalty. 10.04% of our readers prefer to buy their Nook Books, but 99% of the participants originated from the US.  This is the core market where the Nations largest bookseller sells tablets and e ink readers in hundreds of retail locations. Their ecosystem is fairly well developed and they offer self-published titles under the Nook Press banner and full color content optimized for the Nook HD. The sole new device of 2013 was the Nook Glowlight, which tends to be your best friend for binge reading.

The Nook hardware is basically only relevant in the US and UK, but their ecosystem has expanded recently. If you are a Windows 8 tablet owner or like to read on your computer, Microsoft has aided the international expansion into over 32 different countries over the last year. Sadly, Android and iOS readers have to be based in the US/UK to buy books online.

Most other bookstores only had a few people claiming to use it on a regular basis. Sony had 6.02% of the vote, Google with 4.42%, Smashwords at 2.41% and Wattpad with 2.01%. There were 11 people, that made up 4.42% of the vote that mentioned iBooks, the library, Bookeen and others.

Categories : E-Book News
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Following information that a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation is underway against Barnes and Noble for alleged inconsistencies in reporting losses, the lawyers have rushed in to claim a piece of any money that might be doled out.

According to a filing by one of the numerous firms to file, Ryan & Manisaks, LLP, ” The complaint alleges that during the Class Period, Barnes & Noble issued materially false and misleading statements regarding the Company’s financial performance and future business prospects. Specifically, the complaint alleges that defendants misrepresented or failed to disclose: (1) Barnes & Noble’s Nook e-book reader sales had dramatically declined; (2) the Company would shutter its Nook manufacturing operations altogether; (3) the carrying value of the Nook assets were impaired by millions of dollars; (4) the carrying value of the Nook inventory was overstated by $133 million; (5) the Company was expecting fiscal 2014 retail losses in the high single digits; (6) Barnes & Noble had over-accrued certain accounts receivables; (7) Barnes & Noble was unable to provide timely audited financial results for fiscal 2013; and (8) the Company might be forced to restate its previously reported financial results.

“The complaint further alleges that following the July 8, 2013 resignation of Barnes & Noble’s Chief Executive Officer and a July 29, 2013 earnings restatement, on August 20, 2013, Barnes & Noble disclosed much worse company-wide financial results for its first quarter 2014 than the market had been led to expect, including lower sales and losses that more than doubled from the first quarter of 2013. Barnes & Noble also disclosed that the Company’s Chairman had placed on hold his previous bid to take the Company’s bookstore business private. On this news, the Company’s stock price fell more than $2 per share, or approximately 12%.”

Unlike suits brought about on behalf of consumers–such as the lawsuit brought against Apple and five of the then-Big Six publishers for artificially overcharging customers for ebooks–this one is focused on the people who bought stock in Barnes and Noble based on information that the SEC now feels might have been false.

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While consumers might be alarmed by headlines that blare dire warnings about corporate downfalls, it’s important to take closer look at what constitutes a “bad” holiday sales season and what the reasons for a decline might be. News has broken of Barnes and Noble’s recent drop in sales compared to the previous year, and–coupled with news of stores closings, including its flagship 5th Avenue store in New York–can cause customers to question the fate of their favorite local bookselling chain.

But looking at the actual numbers shows a slightly different story. First, yes…B&N’s retail segment dropped 6.6% over the previous year. That’s pretty much to be expected when you close a few bookstores. And while the Nook division posted a staggering 60.5% drop during the holiday season over Christmas 2012, consumers need to note that this year’s holiday shopping season was shorter per the calendar and Barnes and Noble didn’t release a new tablet for this year’s holiday season. The retailer introduced two new tablets last year and saw a spike in sales as a result.

Of course, declines are a cause for concern in any industry. But when you’re Barnes and Noble, a 6.6% decline means you only made slightly more than $1 billion USD. Even with an eye-opening majority drop, the Nook division still earned $125 million just in the nine week holiday shopping period.

“We are pleased with our holiday sales results, especially our core comparable bookstore sales, which were essentially flat and an improvement as compared to the first half of the year,” said Michael P. Huseby, Chief Executive Officer of Barnes & Noble, Inc. “During the holiday period we benefitted from a strong line-up of bestselling titles, great execution by our booksellers and merchants, an effective advertising campaign and strong increases in our Juvenile, Gift and Toys & Games categories.”

A new initiative aimed at putting indie authors’ works in physical B&N locations is also in the works, making the retailer able to offer something to both consumers and authors that even Amazon can’t provide. Good e-Reader has long stated that the only way bookstores will compete is to stop trying to compete; only by leveraging the locations and the brand, along with a strong customer base who is loyal to the store and device, can B&N stay afloat.