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.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.