Barnes & Noble refuses to let the Nook die. Despite declining revenues, waning consumer interest, and fierce competition from the bookseller-that-must-not-be-named (that’s about as close to a literary reference as we millennials can get) the company today announced that it has partnered with Samsung to make another tablet featuring the Nook brand and store.
This partnership might allow the Nook brand to have the hardware it needs to compete with Amazon’s tablets while also giving it the library it needs to compete with its rival’s offerings. It was always strange for Barnes & Noble to offer e-readers and tablets it designed in-house; the company is hardly known for its hardware prowess, and if its goal was to increase sales of its e-books, emphasizing the Nook’s platform instead of its hardware would have made more sense.
Assuming that Barnes & Noble’s partnership with Microsoft, co-owner of the Nook division, hasn’t died alongside the service’s Windows applications, this means that the Nook brand is now aligned with the company behind the world’s most popular desktop operating system (Windows) and the manufacturer responsible for a large portion of tablet and smartphones. If Barnes & Noble plans to expand the Nook platform, it’s off to a pretty damned good start.
The company couldn’t have chosen a better time to remind everyone that it’s still around, even though Amazon effectively controls the book market and has made trips to a brick-and-mortar store seem quaint. (Though I must confess that I enjoy wandering around Barnes & Noble’s store more than clicking through Amazon’s website.) Amazon’s spat with Hachette, which has seen the company increase shipping times and remove pre-order buttons from the publisher’s books, has reminded us that giving it too much control over the book market is a terrible idea.
Consider Amazon’s defense for its actions, which essentially amounts to “other companies do stuff like this all the time” and “you can always buy Hachette’s books from other sellers.” The first part of that argument is a bullshit excuse by itself, and the second part only works if there are competitors like Barnes & Noble around from which people can buy the books that Amazon is effectively sabotaging because its negotiations with a publisher have turned sour.
That won’t be enough for most people to abandon their Kindles and purchase an existing Nook, a middling device that neither offends nor excites anyone. But if the Samsung tablet — which has been given the horrible Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook moniker because there is no hope for the company’s branding department — is even a little bit better, Barnes & Noble might finally be able to capitalize on Amazon’s arrogance with a desirable e-reader and a book library that won’t (or at least shouldn’t) change because Barnes & Noble is throwing a bitch fit.
[Image courtesy Wikimedia]