Monday, October 17, 2011

iBooks vs. B&N

It seems that Amazon is becoming increasingly dominant in this ebook market.  They have stayed competitive in both product and price.  But what really has managed to make them kind of the lions is their online shopping experience.  They were already designed to make money online.  It's easy to find things and the reviewing community there is awesome.  500 reviews on a product totally makes up for not being able to see the thing for yourself.

For awhile, B&N was keeping up nicely.  I actually still think that Nooks look better than Kindles.  They feel more high quality and the ebook actually looks like a book rather than a data pad.  What's killing B&N in this race is their inability to streamline the online shopping experience.  I know I'm not alone here when I say that I actually go to Amazon to shop and then if I find a book I'll go and buy it for my Nook.

I just do not understand why B&N has been slacking off in this area.  For the past eight months they seem to just keep adding gadgets to their site that just kind of make it look like Amazon but aren't nearly so efficient.  What the heck?  If they want to mimic Amazon, just start from scratch.  I'm pretty sure most customers would not complain if there was B&N.com for the regular brick and mortar stores (like to maybe check if they have a book??) and then B&Nonline.com which links directly to the Nook.

Whatever.  The point of that tirade is to call to attention that the available search engine seems to be the thing that is a make or break point for ebook competitors.  Which leads us to iBooks.  There are some major drawbacks right now that are holding them back.  Apple, being Apple, is trying to pull their usual stunt about where iBooks can be downloaded.   They are also obsessed with pricing things with a .99 at the end.  This means they will never be able to keep up with Amazon in that regard.

But they do have the online shopping experience.  It's primitive, to be sure, but at least you can find stuff.  I think with a few tweaks here and there they could give B&N a run for their money.  It doesn't even matter if they charge a few cents more for books because they already have a fan base obsessed with buying everything Apple.

Writers need to be keeping these things in mind.  Don't put all your eggs in one basket.  Just because you're selling well on Amazon doesn't mean you shouldn't try and venture out to other retailers.  You need to stay on top of this if you want to be independently published.

4 comments:

  1. Another huge problem with Barnes & Noble is that they are too US-centric. International indie authors cannot upload their books to B&N directly, because they require a US tax ID, US credit card and US bank account. And international readers can't buy books there. I think it's an extremely stupid business decision to ignore 95% of the world, but Barnes & Noble has made it very clear that they are not interested in readers and writers from beyond the US.

    I'm not an Apple fan by any means, but their stores are more easily accessible for international writers and readers. And because of the Amazon surcharge and because Kindles are not sold in many countries, Apple actually has an edge over Amazon in some countries.

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  2. Yes, I've never understood that either. It's like B&N is slowly bleeding itself to death or something. They could almost survive being US-only if they were AHEAD of the e-reader technology. But I would best describe the Nook as keeping up rather than trying to be innovative.

    My prediction is that within the next year or two Apple will come out with an ipad that has e-ink technology in it. Once that happens B&N will be toast. Which is unfortunate, because I really want B&N to succeed.

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  3. Yes, I imagine that the loss of Barnes & Noble would be devastating for readers in the US, considering they are the only remaining brick and mortar chain.

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  4. That's true! I hadn't even thought of that. If they go under you'd have to just get your new release books at Target or something.

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