Barnes & Noble/Nook update – US eBooks showing exponential growth

Normally I just tweet links like this one from my @frontofstore Twitter account, but I felt there were more than 140 characters of insight to be drawn from this piece from  MocoNews.

  1. The superlatives regarding eBooks keep stacking up.  This report states that eBooks are now outselling hardcovers 3 to 1 on, Barnes & Noble’s online division.  You’ll recall that it’s less than a year since Amazon put out their first “eBooks outselling hardcovers” story in the US.  Now we’re looking at a three-fold difference.
  2. Of course, eBooks and hardcovers aren’t directly competing with one another.  The biggest eBook sellers are genre fiction, through traditional publishers and self-published authors.  Many hardcovers – art books, cookery etc – don’t lend themselves easily to eBook transformation.
  3. The average selling price of an eBook is way lower than that of a typical hardcover.  B&N’s online hardcover bestsellers are priced around the $16 mark.  Their Nook (eBook) bestsellers tend to run at around $9.99.  Over 2 million titles (?!?) appear to be available as eBooks for under $5.
  4. Nook has a market share of 27% in the US, with Amazon’s Kindle holding 60-65% of the market.  That’s a big gap between players, but B&N has achieved much more significant market penetration than any non-Amazon brand in the UK.  Over here, Kindle is reckoned to have 80%+ share, with the rest of the market divided between many other offers.
  5. Total B& sales increased by 65% last year.  Not bad for a booksellers (a “dying format”) – you can see where a lot of the Borders superstore business is migrating to.
  6. Nevertheless, B&N still lost $59m in its last quarter – way better than Borders, but it underlines the cost of online bookselling.  In the UK, Waterstone’s – which has issues of its own (see FoS passim), but which has resisted over-investing in the online provision of physical books or eBooks – is likely to post a decent year-end profit after some seasons of turbulence.
  7. Finally, B&N is on the block, with its board reviewing the Liberty Media offer, which is predicated more on the potential of its online competence, than the future of its superstores.
Now that’s what I call bricks and mortar.  B&N at Baltimore Harbor, picture from

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