August 19, 2010

Embracing e-books?

I don’t normally type up random posts for this blog, as I prefer to keep it primarily about my book reviews. However, I came across an interesting article that I thought I’d share – don’t worry, it’s book-related.

“Barnes and Noble didn’t evolve enough.”

If you didn’t already know, Barnes and Noble has been steadily losing money and shares – so much so, that it put itself up for sale.

According to the article, Amazon and other online booksellers stole a vast amount of business from Barnes and Noble because of their accessibility, good reputations, and overall cheaper prices. While this makes perfect sense to me, I have one problem:

"My hunch is that B&N never really embraced the Internet or e-books, tied as it was to the old-fashioned world of physical books and stores. As B&N focused on managing decline, a much more nimble Amazon could concentrate exclusively on the new world it was forming. B&N needed to destroy its business model to prevail. Now it is probably too late. There is a lesson for all businesses here."

Call me old-fashioned, but I much prefer a tangible book, with pages I can delicately turn, than an e-reader like the Nook or Kindle. I’m not at all against e-readers, because I do understand their functionality, practicality and appeal, but I am against the promotion of there only being e-readers. I’ve never quite understood why it has to be one or the other: e-readers/e-books or, well, books. Personally, I feel the two can co-exist. I don’t think one needs to outshine the other; each has their pros and cons.

As for Barnes and Noble, its decline wasn’t nearly as rapid as Borders’, so it must have been doing something right. I think when it comes down to it, people are siding with what’s most inexpensive, the best deal. Sure, you’ll drop a good two to three hundred dollars for an e-reader, but after that initial cost, books will be a steal. Regular books, however, will continue providing comfort for the old-fashioned, but at much higher prices.

So what do you think? Should Barnes and Noble be catering to the e-reading future? Can e-books and books co-exist?


  1. I am a traditionalist. I prefer a physical paper book; However I have to say I adore my "nooky" because not only can I share books, but it also reduces paperback space on my shelves.

    I think e-books and books can co-exist easily. The problem with B&N is that they shove the nook down your throat as soon as you walk in the store. Just yesterday I was accosted by 2 people asking if I wanted to try the nook even though I clearly was carrying one. Also, their e-book prices are ridiculously high and you can't use coupons or membership discounts on them. That is a huge oversight on B&N's part and imho a major reason for business loss.

    Can you tell I've done a lot of thinking about this? LOL

  2. Like you, I much prefer reading from paper books, but for academic reading- journal articles, magazines, boring book chapters, I prefer to use my iPad. That way I can easily keep the document only as long as I need it, there is no waste, and it's much easier to carry around. So I agree- both are useful in their own ways.

  3. I agree with you ladies. Fun reading means pages I can actually touch and maybe hug (if it's that good, it deserves it, hehe) but for academic purposes, e-journals etc are lifesavers.

  4. I actually work at Barnes & Noble and can I share something with you? The amount of actual books we are being shipped and the floor space we're using for books right now is diminishing quickly. The focus is nook nook nook and other gadgets. It's sad to me because I LOVE tangible books.

    I don't have much of a reason to buy a nook, though I do say if I ever have to use public transportation every day, I might buy one. But at the same time, do I really want to? If, for instance (and this isn't the way it works currently) every time you bought a book, you'd get a free copy of the e-book as well -- kind of like what a lot of movies do now with giving ipod ready versions on discs too -- then maybe I'd give it a try. Because I still want to own the physical book too.

  5. Jenn - Trust me, I've thought about it just as much! And I agree. The Nook being thrown in my face the second I step in the store is a bit annoying.

    bookwurrm & Allison - I've heard that e-readers are good for textbooks, but unfortunately I do not yet own an e-reader.

    Sarah - It's funny you say that, because I've noticed the diminishing floor space for books at the Barnes and Noble I go to as well. And I think that would be a fabulous idea - to get a free e-copy with the purchase of a paper book.

  6. I prefer the old fashioned book too! E-books just seem too electronic (which they are) but I love being able to hold the pages, and you just can't put a bookmark in an ebook!
    Having said that though, I'm surprised to learn that B&N isn't doing so well. I myself prefer to shop at Borders, but I love BN's stores. I hope they don't tank!

  7. Amelia - I love Borders because of their cheaper prices (at least, every time I've gone in they seem to have the books I want at a lower price than B&N). But I also still hope that B&N doesn't entirely tank. I enjoy spending time there.

  8. Hoppin' by to say hello from booksthattugtheheart ...I do follow for follow.!
    ~Congrats on the Versatile Blogger Award.

    Have a good day.

  9. I read this article the other day. I have a Kindle and love it, but when I read that schools are getting rid of their libraries for Kindles... it's ridiculous. There is still a better experience with a physical book than an e-reader.

    Found you through the Hop.

  10. I don't think I could ever use an e-reader. I love to feel the book, hear the pages crinkle, and smell the paper. I couldn't ever give up tangible books.
    The diminishing floor space for books in Barnes and Nobles can be a bit upsetting. The B&N closest to my house took out a whole section of books and put in a bunch of toys instead. Also, I feel like some of the sections have lost their variety.

  11. Jennifer - I agree in that it's ridiculous and that there is a better experience with a physical book than an e-reader; although I don't personally own an e-reader, I've used one from a friend.

    Book Speaker - I don't think I could, either. I'm not a fan of hand-held electronics to begin with, but I'm especially not a fan of getting rid of books. And the B&N I go to has also installed an entirely new toy and teacher section; I think because of this, other sections have lost shelves that were previously used for books.

  12. It seems to me that Barnes and Nobles carries mega-hit bestsellers, and strange "off brand" non-fiction coffee table books and that's about it really.

    I cross my fingers and hope that the future of bookstores is to cater to niche and eclectic markets... like, all children's or all science-fiction or all mystery. You'd get a better selection of favorites that way.

    I love reading books on my laptop, but I still enjoy physical paper books very much too.

  13. I've recently been struggling between buying an e-reader or not. If so, which one do I want to get?

    I don't have a problem with the concept of reading a book on a device. I prefer pages but could do ebooks if I was left with no other choice. What bothers me is the after the read part. I pass my books along to my mom and then when I get them back I either take them to a UBS or use BookMooch or Paperbackswap. With ebooks, there are limited ways to let someone borrow an ebook and you're stuck with that book forever. There is no turning it in to get other books.

    I also don't like being forced to stick to one format either. I know why it's done but I like to have options.

    *sigh* As you can see, I can't really make up my mind and with Dorchester's recent announcement I'm really in a pickle! :)

  14. When it comes to the ebook v. paper book debate, my response is YES, PLEASE! I purchased a nook, and I love it. However, after I put myself on my book buying ban and decided to use the library and/or books that I get from the publisher for free, I haven't been using my nook nearly as much.

    I started buying paper books from B&N online after I bought my nook. As a former Amazon customer, I have to agree that B&N's online purchase processing simply isn't as fast or as convenient as Amazon's. I'm always fairly certain that whatever I order from Amazon will be on my door VERY soon after I order it, regardless of when they say it will be delivered. The opposite is true of B&N. Even long after it should have been delivered, I am still waiting. After several disappointing waits, I've decided to use B&N online only for my ebook purchases.


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