We’ve had the Nook ereader family on our Do Not Buy list for quite a while now, since the first ominous portents from B&N HQ. A year and a half ago, B&N announced they were no longer quite so interested in selling books, then they announced they’d be closing stores altogether—a lot of them over the next decade. We thought that sounded like an optimistic plan because it implied they would be around in a decade.
Now we can go ahead and cut the projected lifespan of B&N in half. News came out this weekend that Barnes & Noble wants to “move away” from its Nook business because the business is still not profitable. You know what’s even less profitable? A retail bookstore chain with no ebook strategy. Isn’t that right, Borders? …. Borders? Hello?
To make matters worse, B&N is considering selling off its retail bookstore business, severing it from the $250-million-loss-per-year Nook business and effectively destroying any chance of Nook survival. The only advantage the Nook has is prominent placement in physical stores.
The moral of this story for readers is simple: Do not buy a Nook. It is doomed, and there’s very little guarantee that your content will be safe (or your hardware will be tech-supported) after B&N dies.
For industry watchers, there’s still a question: When, exactly, will B&N, specifically the Nook division, kick the bucket? I was estimating 2020 before, but this greatly speeds up the clock. My new guess is 2015. I wouldn’t be so surprised if it lasted until 2016, but I don’t think it’ll last any longer than that.