Barnes & Noble has released some holiday sales figures for the 9-week period leading up to Christmas, and the news isn’t particularly good for the maker of NOOK tablets and eReaders. B&N brought in about $125 million in revenue through its NOOK division during that period. That’s almost 61-percent less than the company made from NOOK device, accessory, and digital content sales during the 2012 holiday season.

B&N NOOK lineup

The bookseller also saw a small 6.6 dip in revenue from retail sales at its brick and mortar stores, but that’s at least partially attributable to the company’s strategy of closing some stores across the country.

Meanwhile, rival Amazon recently reported its best-ever holiday season and says weekend leading to Cyber Monday was the best ever for Kindle Fire and Kindle eReader sales.

Amazon has a habit of not actually providing solid figures for Kindle sales, so it’s hard to make an apples to apples comparison here, but it’s pretty clear that a growing number of people are spending their money on Kindles while fewer people are buying into B&N’s ecosystem.

That’s kind of a shame, because B&N actually offers some pretty nice devices at very low prices. While the company hasn’t updated its Android tablets in a while, they have excellent displays, support for apps and digital content from the B&N store and access to the full Google Play Store. You can even install the Amazon app on a NOOK HD tablet if you’d like.

Amazon’s devices, on the other hand, are pretty much tied to Amazon content (unless you root or jailbreak them). It’s not easy to install apps that aren’t in the Amazon Appstore on a Kindle Fire tablet, and if you want to read an EPUB book on a Kindle eReader, you’ll have to convert it to a MOBI, TXT, or AZW file first (and possibly strip the DRM too).

On the other hand, Amazon has done a great job of building its ecosystem. Every day the company offers a different Android app for free. Subscribers to Amazon Prime can stream as many movies and TV shows as they can watch. And Kindle owners who subscribe to Prime also get to borrow a book a month at no additional fee from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.

All told, it’s tough to compete with Amazon on price or value these days… and while the NOOK platform is a bit more open, geeks who want a truly open platform are more likely to buy a general purpose Android device like a Nexus 7.

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11 replies on “People aren’t buying NOOKs like they used to”

  1. I Have one of the originaly nook Tablets. Love it and wanted to update it this holiday season. But with the year-old Nook HDs and no camera, decided to hold off to the spring. I’ve put cyanogenmod on my old one, and I’m too tied into google to make the switch to Amazon at this point. But unless B&N Gets its act together, It’s looking more and more like I’ll be abandoning the Nook altogether.

  2. Liliputing is a site I enjoy for knowledgeable articles, but I am amazed that after 2.5 yrs of the Kindle Fire, the myth is perpetuated that you can get Android apps only from Amazon. If you have time to mention ‘rooting’ or “jailbreaking” you have time to mention a normal Android setting that Amazon includes: you can just *check* the settings box to “allow” installation of “apps from unknown sources” — that is ALL it takes.

    There are many Android app stores that have their own android-appstore apps and re-distribute apps from Google Play. 1mobile is one of them, and it has 500,000+ apps to choose from and they don’t forbid Kindle Fire tablets from downloading them. It’s as easy as getting any other store app and then using that store app to search and download direct to the Kindle Fires any apps and to automaticxally install them with a simple Android file manager.
    I have Google Earth, Google Maps, Street View, Google Voice, and any other app I’ve wanted, on my Kindkle Fires.

    To get the easy steps (no modifications, no rootings) people simply google How to install non-amazon apps on Kindle Fire” or How to install googleplay apps on Kindle Fire.

    The Amazon Kindle customer forums have a lot of advice when people go there, on the app stores customers use and recommend.

    Now, re Nook, the above Amazopn setting means that the Kindle can download an app from ANY developer who offers it at their site, direct.

    Barnes and Noble will not allow this direct download from other sites (in exactly the way they hid the Android setting mentioned above for years and thus lost the race fo customers) and they later allowed GooglePlay only after announcing they were ending production of the Nook tablet line. — It’s been written that they had to agree to Google’s normal pre-approval of system updates for modified-Android systems, Google’s 1st-place slot for Google Music and Apps display, while Amazon with its own successful Music and appstore wouldn’t be going along with that nor waiting for Google’s approval on their own tablet-software updates.

    Even now B&N won’t allow Nook owners to download from developer sites. BUT when B&N, ahead of the game at the time, produced the NookColor, I was right there and enjoyed it a lot for that first year. But they didn’t stay ahead of Amazon in either the ecosystem nor in allowing customers freedom to download apps from unknown sources. Few people are aware of this for some reason (but Nook owners usually are).

  3. I worry the day when Amazon wipes out their competitors. We’ll all have less options. For now, my family will continue to enjoy our nook e-readers and a trio of HDplus tablets. Like Brad and other posters have said, they have great screen resolution and value for the price. We can live with their “outdated” specs.

  4. I considered a Nook. But then I found out Barnes and Nobel almost went bankrupt when Microsoft tried to sue the crap out of them. Barnes and Nobel didn’t want to pay Microsoft’s ‘protection money’ for using Android instead of Windows. I’m sure the Nook is a nice device, but it may be hard to get support if Microsoft sues them into oblivion. If that’s the case, I’m better off with a $69 cheap generic Chinese Android tablet from WalMart instead.

    1. IIRC MS dropped the [threatened] legal action because B&N caved (they were my heroes up until that point) – MS won’t sue and in return B&N have entered some kind of retail agreement with them – don’t remember the details, either selling subsidised content or some other joint content-centric venture.

  5. I have a Nook HD and a HD+. I think they’re both great devices. I’ll admit, they’re no speed demons, but the processors are definitely adequate for my needs. The screens are beautiful. I’m willing to give up the camera for a SD Card slot. I hope Barnes and Noble can come up with an effective strategy to turn everything around. I’ve been loyal to B&N for a long time and I want them to do well.

    I think something else that hurt Nook sales this year was I saw them in fewer retailers. My local Staples quit carrying Nooks in store and Wal-Mart and Target only carry the HD. The HD is a great deal for what you get, but I think the HD+ is a better bargain.

  6. I’ve purchased 3 refurbished Nook HDs this season… And zero Nexus tablets. No micro SD = no sale. I should probably snap up some HD+ models if I see a good price.

  7. The flagship Nook HD and HD+ are pretty much last years models. See, when the other guys want to sell more units, they actually update their models in advance of the holiday season. I have two of the HD+ models and they are nice and a great bargain . . . but slow and except for the nice display the internals are more like 2-3 year old hardware. A faster sleeker HD+ for similar price point – I would take that.

  8. That’s ironic I told my mother in law to upgrade her nook to a nook hd and to get one for her husband so that he had someone to help him and she keeps all of her nook content.
    Instead she buys him some Acer-branded Android tablet.
    Now she is stuck with her old nook and I’m stuck helping him do like anything because he is older and completely new to Android.
    So I tried, I truly did. 🙁

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