Report: Barnes & Noble Might Give Up on the Nook (Updated)

Illustration for article titled Report: Barnes  Noble Might Give Up on the Nook (Updated)

According to the New York Times, struggling bookmonger Barnes & Noble might be about to shelve its Nook. The problem is one more common to physical books than tablets: nobody's buying them.

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The Nook's not going to disappear entirely, even if Barnes & Noble disengages from the hardware side of things. The company's instead considering cutting its losses and focusing on content deals with Microsoft, Samsung, and other companies with more tablet clout. As one mole squeaked to the NYT:

"They are not completely getting out of the hardware business, but they are going to lean a lot more on the comprehensive digital catalog of content," said this person, who asked not to be identified discussing corporate strategy.

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And while putting Nook in a corner might keep B&N from hemorrhaging much more money, it's also a very large white flag, though, and an early signal that there tablet and ereader pie isn't big enough for everyone to have a slice. [NYT]

Update: A Barnes & Noble spokesperson reached out with the following comment:

"To be clear, we have no plans to discontinue our award-winning line of NOOK products."

Which is certainly in line with the NYT report; not discontinuing still leaves plenty of room for paring down.

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DISCUSSION

Having just polished off the Game of Thrones series on my 4.3" phone, the notion of a dedicated reader seems increasingly absurd.

The phone is always with me, is perfect to hold and operate with one hand, and can be read anywhere. Convenience is overwhelming.

A dedicated reader might offer a better screen in terms of eye strain or visibility in sunlight (although I half suspect phone screens will evolve to eliminate that advantage), but it's one more thing to carry, charge, lose, drop, etc, and they're typically big enough to be cumbersome (I sometimes use a Kindle for reading, and the size and weight quickly becomes tiring).

Right now, I'm reading a 'real' book. While I like the idea of it, in practice I've been annoyed no end with a) the fact that it's not always with me when I suddenly have a spare 10 minutes to read, b) the annoyance of trying to read it one-handed, c) needing to bother my wife with lights when I suddenly want to read at 3:30am.