retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The New York Times reports this morning that "after a year spent signaling its commitment to build its business through its Nook division, Barnes & Noble on Thursday announced disappointing holiday sales figures, with steep declines that underscored the challenge it faces in transforming from its traditional retail format."

Without deep-diving into the numbers, essentially the problem is this. Sales in the Nook division - which includes actual e-readers as well as digital content - were down 12 percent from a year earlier, suggesting that what Barnes & Noble hoped would be the solution to its competitive problems in dealing with Amazon.com may not be a panacea.

The biggest problem seems to be that while critics have liked the Nook, consumers are largely locked into Amazon's Kindle system or Apple's iPad ... and the Nook becomes almost irrelevant to the conversation. Or, at least, not relevant enough to save a company desperately looking for a digital solution so that it won't turn into Borders.
KC's View:
Not good news for Barnes & Noble, and somehow I'm not really surprised by this. They came fairly late to the party, and most people I know (admittedly not an extensive sample) had either Kindles or iPads. (I have both, but mostly use the Kindle app on my iPad.) It was just hard to imagine Barnes & Noble being able to crack that market with any enormous level of success.

Now, it is back to the drawing board, figuring out how to deal with the legacy business and how to craft a digital strategy that will work ... all the while, hoping that the ghosts of Borders past don't come knocking on the door.