Barnes & Noble is pulling back on its investment in the Nook, its line of tablets and ereader devices.
Throughout 2012, B&N pushed hard to get readers of books hooked on the Nook. But now it looks like it’s conceding that fight. B&N has announced it is going to put the company’s focus on acquiring content (i.e., ebooks) and on signing deals with Microsoft and Samsung for distributing that content. (Note that they don’t mention working with Amazon.)
This is the latest twist in the ongoing battle over who will control the reading habits of the world’s expanding population of avid book consumers. Ereader devices and tablets in the book business have generally been a losing proposition. Even Amazon, the leader in the field, actually makes no profit selling its Kindle hardware. It sells Kindles cheap in order to undercut its competitors and get the public to buy ebooks, where the real money is.
The transition from paper to pixels has been hard on the big publishing companies, but their vicious struggle to outdo one another is an ongoing boon for us: readers, writers, and independent publishers.