Thursday, November 4, 2010

The NookColor Won’t Save Barnes and Noble

While B&N is a world-class bricks-and-mortar bookseller, it doesn’t seem to have brought all that skill to other ventures to the extent one might have hoped. Does anybody believe is as good as Some believe Nook is as good as Kindle (or even better if one values an open e-book format), but not enough if one goes by market share.

Another question involves the economic viability of a brick-and-mortar chain. Is the expense structure (occupancy costs, staffing costs, and costs associated with maintaining physical inventory in so many locations) an albatross that hinders B&N’s ability to execute as well as it might like in other areas?

Finally, there’s the question of scope. started as a bookseller, but nowadays, it’s a challenge to list things Amazon doesn’t sell. Does B&N’s less diversified revenue/profit stream put it at a hard-to-overcome disadvantage?

I love bookstores in general and B&N bookstores in particular. So I really, really, really want B&N to succeed. I also want to find a reason to own its stock, especially given the 6%-plus yield and the special-situation angle inherent in the poison pill and accompanying takeover thoughts. But when I catch myself in a B&N store finding a book that really appeals to me, and then pulling out my Blackberry, opening my Kindle app, and buying the Kindle version of the book (that being the dedicated e-reader I wound up choosing), ouch.