Enter any Barnes & Noble location, and you can't miss the bookseller's Nook tablets. They're presented front and center in their own special section -- like a bit of an Apple store dropped in amid the rows and rows of books. Despite the prime real estate, Nooks have continued to drag down the bottom line for B&N, leading to disappointing quarterly reports and a new CEO for the firm.
This year's holiday sales tallies haven't brought any cheer to this story. The company says that Nook sales plummeted by 60 percent for the 2013 holiday season compared to the previous year. In addition, Barnes & Noble claimed that its share of the e-book market has declined to 20 percent.
The list of reasons for the Nook's continued struggles are legion. It faces unyielding competition from Apple's iPads as well as Amazon's Kindles (not to mention Amazon's ability to sell its e-books generally for less than B&N on those Kindles). Throw in all of the other Android tablets and the ever-increasing range of Windows slates, and the Nook has a hard time standing out.
It also doesn't help that there were no new Nook models released this past holiday season, whereas a pair of new Nooks bowed at the end of 2012, a point that new CEO Michael P. Huseby has been quick to point out. (That may be in part due to Barnes & Noble's decision to stop making Nooks that double as Android tablets.)
Despite a steady pattern of bad news for the Nook, Huseby is convinced that B&N needs to continue offering its own devices in order to succeed in the digital market. He told The Wall Street Journal that "Your best chance of success for selling digital content is on your own dedicated devices which have your brand or a co-brand on them." That's certainly been the case for Apple and Amazon, but third place in this race is looking more like earning a medal made of tin than bronze.
Should Barnes & Noble continue to invest in Nook devices, like Huseby suggests? Or should the company end that chapter of its digital strategy, and turn the page to something else? Let us know your thoughts in the Talkback section.