Barnes & Noble says it sold fewer NOOK devices and fewer titles through its digital content stores over the 2012 holiday season than it did over the 2011 holidays. Overall NOOK revenues were down 12.6 percent from the previous year.
That’s despite B&N’s work to expand its NOOK product lineup. There are now 4 different NOOK devices to choose from, with starting prices ranging from $79 to $269.
The drop in NOOK sales comes as part of B&N’s holiday sales report. Sales of old-fashioned books and other content at retail stores was also down during the 2012 holiday season.
In 2012 Barnes & Noble introduced the new NOOK HD, NOOK HD+, and NOOK Simple Touch with GlowLight. The company also continues to sell the standard NOOK Simple Touch eReader for $79. That’s the same price as an entry-level Amazon Kindle — but Amazon includes advertisements on its eReader, while B&N does not.
It’s been a tough few years for booksellers like Barnes & Noble. Rival Borders went out of business in 2011, and Amazon continues to dominate the eBook space, at least in the US. While it’s nice to be able to walk into a bricks and mortar store to browse books, eBook sales are on the rise, and it’s hard for most companies to compete with Amazon’s dominance of that space.
B&N has been trying valiantly, and the company’s latest eReader and tablet hardware is actually quite nice and also quite reasonably priced. While it’s possible we could see price cuts on NOOK hardware in the coming months as Barnes & Noble tries to attract more customers, it’s kind of tough to imagine how much the company can drop prices without doing more harm than good.
On the one hand, giving away free eReaders might be a good way to lock customers into your ecosystem so that you can make more money by selling them content in the future. On the other hand, there’s no guarantee they’ll actually buy anything at all — there are millions of public domain eBooks available for free.
If the NOOK business does go south and B&N decides to pull an HP and sell off its remaining tablets well below cost though, there’s good news. Hackers have recently figured out how to install CyangoenMod 10 on the NOOK HD+ to free it from Barnes & Noble’s software and effectively turn it into a fully functional Android tablet.
via The Verge