Thursday, April 09, 2009

B&N ebook Noise?

Scott Moritz, writing in The has started a rumour that, dependant where you stand, may have legs. The rumour is that Barnes and Noble hot on the back of buying Fictionwise is now working on bringing their own Kindle type device to the market.

The article ‘Tech Rumor of the Day: Barnes & Noble’ goes on to list all the usual and obvious partner suspects on the wireless side and the revenue that Amazon is expected to turn over on the Kindle, but fails to deliver any real substance on what, when and how the rumour would turn to fact.

It does remind us that Barnes & Noble has been through the ebook tablet before in 2003. In fact there isn’t much that B&N hasn’t tried at one stage or another and they also are not just a bookseller but also a sizable publisher, packager and reprint business.

The big question is whether it is wiser to strike out by yourself and trade off the B&N brand, which only really has resonance in the North American market, or hook up with others that may offer a bigger pool, protection from risk and the ability to exploit its own assets. Waterstones achieved a UK exclusive with Sony and although that particular door may be shut in the US, it may not be shut on a wireless or new model. They also now have to build Fictionwise into the offer and importantly, does it make sense to pin too much on ebook only devices when the mobile is grabbing all the attention, the netbook is coming down fast and you have Fictionwise?

So it may be a choice between exclusivity, which may be offer short term benefit but long term exposure or collaboration and openness which certainly would get them attention to be seen by many as far more logical than the current ‘aggregator centric’ market model and give them the flexibility to move quickly with the flow in the future. Why invest in tin when there are some big outsiders hovering to move in and one eink device, netbook, mobile isn’t much different from another and consumer is fickle? Lining up with Newscorp or Hearst would make more sense.

The one thing that is certain is that any move really should be made in 2009 while the market is finding its feet.

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