Barnes & Noble of the future: The NOOKCafe

Barnes & Noble of the future: The NOOKCafe

Summary: What does the future hold for the modern bookstore. Will it get swept up in the digital revolution, or change to meet demand?

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It's no secret that brick and mortar bookstores have a bumpy road ahead of them. The future is not certain. Just recently, bookstore chain Borders filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. They closed 200 stores and put the business up for sale; but in this economy, it doesn't look like anyone's buying.

On the other hand, Barnes & Noble shows a much stronger business, attracting Liberty Media to offer to buy B&N outright for $1 billion. Unlike Borders, B&N has a very strong online and tablet marketplace. They hold 25% of the current e-reader market, second only to Amazon and the Kindle.

Barnes & Noble was flexible enough to change with the times when Amazon came along and created an online marketplace for books where there was none before. They shifted to compete, providing a quality online service. They also revamped their stores to make them more attractive to buyers. Customers are invited to spend time in the cafe, use free in-store wifi, and read ebooks for free on their Nook devices.

The writing is on the wall, however. Amazon recently reported that ebooks are now outselling paper print books. Print media, such as magazines and newspapers, have been on the decline for years with the advent of the internet.

There will always be a place for print, but the majority of reading material is very likely going to shift to the majority being published in digital format. It's really only a matter of time before the physical bookstore becomes unnecessary--there won't be enough physical books and periodicals to justify a physical store to sell them.

The outmoded bookstore paradigm needs to change. Barnes & Noble started heading in the right direction, but they're nearing a point where such large stores are no longer necessary.

Picture this: The Barnes & Noble NOOKCafe(tm). Current B&N stores already partner with Starbucks and have their own menu sandwiches and desserts. They could easily expand that into a full-blown bistro.

Imagine being able to sit in a booth, and shop for ebooks on a touchscreen display at your table. Slide your membership card, your registered credit card in the attached magnetic reader, or use Near-Field Communication payment and have your selections automatically downloaded to your e-reader.

Customers will still be able to browse the stacks; it will simply be virtual, rather than physical. The bistro atmosphere would make it more of a social destination rather than a solitary one.

There's no reason why it would have to be limited to just books and periodicals. You could purchase videos as well. Imagine a small theater room where a group of friends could rent a new DVD release for less than the price of a theater ticket, and watch it in a huge HDTV screen while being served dinner and drinks--and being able to pause the movie during interruptions.

There's a wide number of possibilities for a business that is flexible and willing to change with the times. Is Barnes & Noble that kind of company? Maybe with a being media corporation like Liberty behind them, they can be.

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40 comments
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  • RE: Barnes & Noble of the future: The NOOKCafe

    Fascinating ideas you propose. Change is coming. Aren't you glad that Amazon was able to hang on for those several years before they actually became profitable? If they hadn't we might not be seeing all of this. Best wishes :)
    josh92
    • RE: Barnes & Noble of the future: The NOOKCafe

      @josh92

      "What does the <strong><a href="http://learnviolinonlinehq.com/">learn violin online</a></strong> future hold for the modern bookstore. Will it get swept up in the digital revolution, or change to meet <strong><a href="http://glaucomaeyedrops.com/">glaucoma eyes drops</a></strong> demand?"

      I as well have very high expectations for Barnes and noble. I have never owned any <strong><a href="http://brighteyesdrops.com/">bright eyes drops</a></strong> of their products, as they're not really for sale in Denmark - at least not yet. But I follow the company as much as I can, and they seem very interesting. I hope they'll have great success.
      runeklan
  • Hold on there, boyo!

    You're getting your cart *wwaaaayyy* in front of your horse.

    There are a number of issues about e-books that have to be addressed before they'll dominate the world. First, price, second DRM silos, third archive security, and fourth licensing (as in elimination of).

    All of these are horrifically contentious issues, and unless B&N et al can offer a solution e-books go *nowhere*.

    I love my Nook but I've bought exactly *1* "book" (actually a short-story). Everything else is public domain from Project Gutenburg--you'd be amazed how much good reading is out there pre-copyright or out of copyright.

    The promise *is* there, the devil is in the details, as always.
    wolf_z
    • Not that far in front

      @wolf_z
      While I understand you don't like paying for books, there are many, MANY more of us that are perfectly happy to shill out our hard earned dollars so the authors who entertain us can pay their mortgage, feed their kids, and continue to write great stories for us to enjoy. I don't have a problem with DRM on the Nook, and making sure my favorite authors get compensation for their time, energy and imagination. What would be AWESOME is if B&N and Amazon can get together and collaborate on some kind of cross-device DRM. So that I can not only loan a book to my mother to read on her Nook, but also my sister to read on her Kindle.
      bigsibling
      • RE: Barnes & Noble of the future: The NOOKCafe

        @bigsibling "What would be AWESOME is if B&N and Amazon can get together and collaborate on some kind of cross-device DRM."

        Totally agree. A book is a book if I buy it at Barnes and Noble or Amazon, and I can lend it or give it away as I wish. I would like my e-books to work in a similar way. Cost is the factor. I appreciate the fact that ebooks are cheaper because they cannot be given to other people. Maybe they could charge extra for a version that can be given away and read by someone else.
        redhaven
      • RE: Barnes & Noble of the future: The NOOKCafe

        @bigsibling
        I agree that artists must be paid for their work or there won't be any but @wolf_z does raise at least one valid issue. What happens if B&N or Amazon go bust? Now I realize that's pretty unlikely in the near future but if you buy books with DRM from a company that disappears at some point what happens to those books? More prescient to me is the possible loss of the bookstore experience. I'm sorry, but digitally browsing through on-line books whether in a cafe or at home does not come close to replicating the bookstore experience. Plus looking at a cover, table of contents or a single chapter is a poor alternative to leafing through a paper book to decide if it's worth buying. Don't get me wrong, I'm no luddite. I own an e-reader and a tablet and have bought and read many books on both but I also recognize that we will potentially lose more than we gain as this sector moves into the digital realm.
        sgraham60@...
      • You misunderstand

        @bigsibling

        Over the last 40 years I've paid enough money for books to buy a nice *house*. My home has a dedicated library with thousands of books.

        So no, I don't mind paying for books.

        I *do* mind paying for ebooks for the following reasons:

        1) It isn't permanent. A book is, in effect, the "e-book reader" + the "e-book". You can give the book to someone else, you can sell it in a yardsale, you can trade it to a second hand bookstore and if the original publisher goes bust the book will still last 100+ years.

        2) With ebooks if the publisher goes bust the DRM isn't compatible with anything else, and heaven help you if the unlock key gets lost or your reader goes belly up...

        3) It's way too simple to lose an ebook to simple accident, with no way to retrieve it. Yes, a normal book can be lost or burnt or whatever, and it's gone. But if an ebook is accidentally deleted or if the (horribly complicated) loan system fails your ebook is gone without recourse. Especially if the original publisher is out of business.

        4) Ebooks are *licensed*, not sold. Unacceptable. I buy a copy, it's *MINE*. End of story.

        For these reasons e-books are not fit for purpose. The publishers of e-books are selling an inferior version of the orginal at the same or *higher* price.

        No thank you.
        wolf_z
      • RE: Barnes & Noble of the future: The NOOKCafe

        @bigsibling
        re" ...perfectly happy to shill out our hard earned dollars..."
        You're missing the point. The issue is "digital" vs "paper". The only way to get a paper book is for somebody to buy it. The "somebody" can then chuck it in a dustbin.... but the author really got paid.

        Why should the author or the distributor get paid for value they did not add? A wheelbarrow maker does not get paid every time the wheelbarrow is used. He gets paid for the original product. If he wants more money, he has to make another wheelbarrow.

        A PC-technician does not get paid every time the PC that he assembled is used by a different person. If he wants more money, he has to produce another PC.

        Why should an author or book/music distributor be different ?
        Loggies
      • RE: Barnes & Noble of the future: The NOOKCafe

        @bigsibling You can already share ebooks with other nook users. However I agree there should be some agreed upon drm transfer, between ebook sellers.

        What i like about the nook is you can create your own epub and pdf file to upload to you library.
        iamanerd
    • RE: Barnes & Noble of the future: The NOOKCafe

      @wolf_z I totally agree about the DRM and Licensing issues, but unlike you, I have purchased DRM free books, and not just Creative Commons and Public domain ebooks! There are many places to buy that supply current books in open formats! Webscriptions, Fictionwise ( which is part of Barnes and Noble has multi-format books, which are non-DRM) and many others! I vote with my wallet and support Publishers and book stores that sell Non-DRMed eBooks!
      leopards
  • Do You Really Believe Amazon?

    From what I can observe, I have a really hard time believing that they are really selling more eBooks than paper. I'm a big time believer in digital, and even I struggle to get more than half of what I want to get (or have to get for my master's degree) in digital. I know of plenty of people who wouldn't touch an eBook with a ten-foot pole - and they are more likely to read lots of books than the early adopters I know. Don't you think they were just spinning numbers when they said that?

    Think of children - how many kids really read Dr. Seuss on a Kindle? Think of schoolchildren or college students - how many textbooks do they really get in digital? Think of seniors - plenty of them don't know or care that there is a nook, and Kindle, and the like. Think of all those romance novels people are reading - how many of those are likely to be digital? I just don't see how volume on digital is going to be more.
    WebSiteManager
    • RE: Barnes & Noble of the future: The NOOKCafe

      @WebSiteManager The problem I have with eBooks, especially for the textbook market is that they are incredible ripoffs, even at half the price of a physical book. Even in my undergrad days many moons ago, at best you got 35% of the cost of a textbook back at the end of the quarter/semester. Plus the textbook eBook market is so proprietary that it's not funny, and I have not purchased a physical book yet for any class and will not.
      DAMANgoldberg
    • RE: Barnes & Noble of the future: The NOOKCafe

      @WebSiteManager I tend to believe that an online-only store would sell more ebooks than print. In these days of instant gratification, I would expect a majority of people to download an ebook rather than waiting 3-5 days for it to arrive.
      What I don't believe is that because an online-only business sells more ebooks than print, the print industry is doomed.
      masonlc
  • RE: Barnes & Noble of the future: The NOOKCafe

    Couldn't you have found a photo of a NOOK with the B&N coffee?
    Rosedith@...
    • RE: Barnes & Noble of the future: The NOOKCafe

      @Rosedith@... That's what I thought too
      nomorebs
      • RE: Barnes & Noble of the future: The NOOKCafe

        @nomorebs me too! Funny...

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        Micheldb
  • RE: Barnes & Noble of the future: The NOOKCafe

    I am so! ready for this, believe me! "written from my Color Nook" really
    heymull
  • RE: Barnes & Noble of the future: The NOOKCafe

    Quite frankly, I wouldn't read an e-book if its available on paper. E-books are basically a techno-junky fad. E-books are marketing-driven: We are "told" its the future, and if enough journalists repeat the same drivel, then eventually people might be buy into it. Informal feedback says "it feels wrong" / "its just not the same". E-readers are expensive, cumbersome and a security risk.

    Another objection is the rip-off factor. I don't like being ripped off. The vendor does not have to keep stock, maintain a shop, pay personnel, have books printed,pay a distributor,etc. but I still pay almost the same price. Why don't the buyer see the massive cost savings ? Or is somebody going to claim that printing and distribution is a minor cost factor ?

    "bigsibling" said he doesn't mind paying for books. He is missing the point totally. People buy books. Its the most popular method of acquiring them. But e-books steal the freedom of lending them to a friend, get a bargain from a used-books store and discover a treasure in a box of old books,etc.

    E-books has a place.....if they're SIGNIFICANTLY cheaper than normal books and can be shared and swopped like normal books, but its technology that's forced onto the buyer in stead of an evolutionary process that addresses a real need.
    Loggies
    • The original Nook *with cover*...

      @Loggies

      ...feels just like a book in the hands. For reading e-ink is very very good. The ability to change font sizes as needed is a godsend for my aging eyes.

      I *love* the Nook. What I hate is the insane restrictions the e-book business model imposes on customers.

      Solve the problems I listed in my original post and I'm *there* 100%. Of course, solving those problems is a hard problem (hard as in "hard computer problem").
      wolf_z
      • RE: Barnes & Noble of the future: The NOOKCafe

        @wolf_z They're not really problems. Price is essentially a non-issue as most of the time you're paying less. Contrary to what you claimed, your books are more safe, not less. An e-book can't be deleted. Once you buy it (at least via Amazon), you've bought it. If you delete it from your reader, you can always download it again later. I'm reminded of a friend who worked with computers in the early 90s who kept all of her addresses and schedules in a planner book. When we asked her why, she said that it was safer than a floppy disk. One day she was at a mall that had a wishing-well type setup in a seating area. She laid the planner down for a second as she sat along the edge, then knocked it into the water. Needless to say, the next day she began putting all of her information (that she could retrieve) onto a floppy disk. Yes, the disk could fail, but it was trivially easy to make backup copies!

        DRM isn't a real issue either. A few years ago I did what was then quite new by buying a computer game online such that you downloaded it to your PC. It was trivially easy to switch the DRM to another PC, and the seller promised that should they go out of business they'd provide an unlock code to turn the game into a regular copy. You can be assured Amazon or B&N would do the same thing - although it's more likely they would be bought by someone else and your service would continue.

        "Ebooks are *licensed*, not sold. Unacceptable. I buy a copy, it's *MINE*. End of story." Well, then you'll be like Burgess Merideth in Twilight Zone, the last man on earth with paper books. :-) Other than reselling it, you're not losing out on anything under the current model, and you're getting them for cheaper anyway. And if more people buy books rather than have other people give them to them the price might go down further.

        Factor in the portability, and it seems like a great development to me!
        jgm@...