An appeal to Barnes and Noble

Dear Barnes and Noble,

Don’t kill the Nook eReader.

Please don’t.

Kill that god-awful Galaxy Nook tablet, by all means. The world will be much better without yet ANOTHER 7 inch Samsung Tablet, but keep at making eReaders.

The eReader market is getting tight—Sony’s dropped out, leaving the primary competition between you, Amazon, and Kobo. All of you make great eReaders, and all of you have great content selections. But I will ever be on the side of actual bookstores, and that means you and Kobo have my undying support. Amazon eReaders in my experience are flimsy things, with fragile screens and a great return policy. Their store is massive, but as is true with app stores is true with Amazon’s collection: for every masterpiece is 30 something fart simulators. I love my Kobo eReader dearly, but Nook has an equally superb collection that is best-in-class when compared to iBooks or Amazon.

Your Nook Glowlight is a piece of art. It’s small, attractive to look at, lightweight, carries a larger amount of books, and still has a great screen and a cross country roadtrip’s worth of battery life. If you’d left in the MicroSD card reader and kept things a bit more open-format, I would have bought a Nook Glowlight instead of an Aura HD.

Furthermore, I love the Barnes and Noble brand. Your name means choices abound for customers. The brand means quality and professionalism,and another new read just behind each closed book. The Nook is such a great enabler of all of these values.

But let’s address the market. I can’t expect to win an argument simply based on my sentimentality to a brand.

Years ago, Amazon created the Kindle, but they did more than that. They created a market for electronic reading devices.

You responded with the Nook, and not only competed with Amazon, you did so ably, with devices that were simple and attractive and were able to match Amazon’s blow for blow. There was even a brief period that we thought you might win. What happened guys?

Back then, eReaders were a VERY hot property. Every company had them. Amazon had them, you had them, Kobo was BUILT AROUND THEM, and Sony’s were not very pretty but actually quite good. There were hundreds of readers from no-name companies around the world, all of varying levels of quality. I say this to remind you that ebooks are a business that is no less lucrative than physical books, and in physical books, you still have the hearts and minds of shoppers.

This is important, because eReaders, for all the hundreds of designers and manufacturers that started out, have become something of a three horse race. You have, against your own foolishness and doddery, have made it this far, and it wasn’t by luck. Well, not entirely.

What Barnes and Noble needs to do is sell the Nook to BARNES AND NOBLE. If you are arguing with yourselves (and all evidence says that you are) about the value of keeping Nook associated with the Barnes and Noble company, then how can you expect to sell them to others who may be considerably more on the fence?

Do NOT drop out of this race and hand eReader design and manufacture in the USA to Amazon on a golden, jewel-encrusted platter. They may have made the market, but that does not carry an inbuilt right to rule it. You’ve been ceding so much ground to them, and this Samsung “partnership” you have is the icing on the cake for the House that Bezos Built. There’s nothing “Barnes and Noble” about a Samsung tablet, or an HTC, or a Sony, or indeed from any manufacturer. And I can pretty fairly point out that the Nook Color tablet was about the beginning of the end for the Nook.

Now you’re pushing a Samsung Tablet that is JUST a Samsung Tablet with a “better than pretty good app for reading” and trying to pass it off as a Nook. And there’s this nasty rumor that Nook might become it’s own company?

Shame on you, Barnes and Noble. I’m hardly old, but even I know that spinning a failing product into a separate company is a good signal that you think the Nook is failing so hard that you must distance yourself from your most capable child, lest it drag you under as well. You seem to have completely given up, because before you gave up, you forgot what Nook was all about. You forgot what made Nooks popular in the beginning. The Nook Glowlight is a fantastic device: it’s classic Barnes and Noble.

You have no business in Tablets. You never did. Let your well built app fight that war (and please support new OS’s like Sailfish, Firefox OS and Ubuntu Touch, while you’re at it!).

Keep the pressure on Amazon with smartly made eReaders, something to match the Voyage in the way the Glowlight did against the Paperwhite: match the key specs, and give it to customers thinner, lighter, more attractively, and ad free. And then undercut the smug bastards by $20 to $30 off their sticker price. Ignore tablets—that fight is an unwinnable war, and it’s how Amazon cornered you to begin with. Even if your Nook HD and HD+ were gorgeous and useful. Even Kobo’s superbly-made Android Tablets were a money sink, and they recently pulled out of that market.

Stick to what you do best. Sell yourselves on the idea of the Nook first, because we your customers bought that idea long ago.

Those Android Tablets, all that failed experimentation, was your “New Coke”. The market didn’t like your New Coke. So bring your Coke Classic back. Give us the Nook we love.

It worked in Soda and it will work better than what you’re doing now.

Or, if you prefer an analogy closer to home, all those Nook Tablets were your “Fire Phone”. Because customers bought THAT in droves, didn’t they?

You still have customers and enthusiasts. Let us tell you what we love about your products and how we use them.

Listen, don’t think.

Learn from this experience.

And then go back to making brilliant eReaders… and if someone EVER comes into your offices suggesting a “co-branded tablet” ever again, BEAT THEM WITH A STICK.

Seriously guys—WHOSE IDEA WAS THAT?


A writer and poet who loves books.


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