Back in 2012, Microsoft and Barnes & Noble announced a partnership and where the software giant invested $300 million for a 17.6 percent equity stake in the company valued at $1.7 billion overall. Now Microsoft is dissolving that partnership for $62.4 million in cash and 2.7 million shares of Barnes & Noble. The original goal was to help Microsoft break into the e-book business, but with Nook revenue falling 41 percent and hardware sales falling 64 percent, Microsoft realized there was little hope in keeping their partnership alive.
Despite being a decent e-reader, the Nook faces stiff competition from Amazon’s Kindle along with general purpose tablets like the iPad and Android tablets. What compelling reason does anyone have to buy a Nook over rival products? What compelling reason do people have for buying Nook e-books over rival products?
The answer is simple. None. When you have no compelling advantage, you have no hope for the future.
As self-published authors, you don’t want to ignore the Nook as a platform for selling your e-books, but you don’t want to focus exclusively on the Nook since it’s market share is so small. A while back I read a statistic claiming Amazon gets over 100 million visitors compared to the Nook’s 6 million visitors. Whether those figures are accurate or not is debatable, but it’s easy to see that Amazon has a far greater reach in the e-book market than Nook will ever have.
As Barnes & Noble struggles to survive in the retail market and slowly dies in the e-book market with their Nook, you can expect both the Nook e-book business and retail bookstore business to return less than stellar results. If you want to pin your hopes on a dying business, you can cling to the Nook. Otherwise, you might as well plan on the Nook dying along with Barnes & Noble soon. If you can imagine both the Nook and Barnes & Noble’s retail stores gone, how will you make money selling books?
The answer is to avoid depending on both the Nook and Barnes & Noble’s retail stores. Without the distribution network of retail stores, authors can’t rely on publishers to market their books. That means you as the author must market your own books and essentially replace the functions that publishers and bookstores used to hold, which revolves around getting a book out in front of the public.
Fortunately, marketing your own e-book or print-on-demand book is easy using web sites, blogs, and social networks. The bottom line is that if you don’t market your own books, nobody else will. It’s time to be your own marketer and distributor because the dinosaur world of traditional publisher continues to implode. If Microsoft sees no future in the Nook, then it’s hard to argue that anyone else should invest a future with Nook or Barnes & Noble either.