Barnes and Noble announced today that it may put itself up for sale to avoid a shareholder battle over its falling stock prices. It has been very aggressive in its pursuit of Amazon in the e-book market introducing the Nook (our Nook review) late last year and getting over 100,000 titles and magazines online. The costs involved have led to some poor forecasting for profits for the next year which have resulted in stock prices falling off since June.
This new announcement could also be related to the rather shocking claim yesterday by Amazon that it owns over 70% of the e-book market. Is it true? Without any of the major players (Apple, Amazon, BN or Borders) releasing any numbers it's hard to say but I think we can safely say that Amazon owns a majority.
I was briefly impressed by the Borders announcement a month ago that it was launching a new e-book store with over 100,000 free titles. Once I realized that they had just created a massive link farm to Google's free editions which include horrendous automatically converted titles from pdf to epub format, my enthusiasm dropped considerably.
I can say with utmost confidence that we are not in the top three for e-book sales even though we were the first Catholic store to launch a digital media section. The main problem we have, apart from the much smaller market that we serve, is that Catholic publishers are running six months to a year behind the rest of the publishing industry. Of all of the major Catholic publishers we have talked to only Ignatius is really the only one that has been forward thinking on this front. To the rest of the Catholic publishers out there – by the time you stop having meetings discussing this new sales channel and actually get into the market everyone else will long have passed you by unless you move now. Not in six months. Now.