Didn't get a Nook for Xmas? That's OK, hardly anyone else did, either

Barnes & Noble's ebook reader biz hammered in holiday sales disaster


The fortunes of Barnes & Noble's Nook division have gone from bad to worse, with the ebook group reporting plummeting revenues over the holiday period.

The bookseller said on Thursday that the Nook unit's sales for the nine weeks ending December 28 were down 60.5 per cent from the same period a year ago.

Newly minted Barnes & Noble CEO Michael Huseby – who was elevated to the chief exec slot on Wednesday after having served as head of the company's ailing digital division – did his best to put on a brave face in a canned statement released on Thursday.

"Sales in the NOOK segment declined year-over-year largely because during the previous holiday season the company introduced two new tablet products, while no new tablets were introduced this year," Huseby said.

To be precise, B&N axed its tablet line in June, having managed to capture a mere 1.9 per cent of the fondleslab market during last year's holiday shopping season.

Since then, the company has released only one new device: the Nook GlowLight, a minor update of its E Ink reader featuring a higher-resolution screen and an improved illumination system.

It has also been clearing out its device inventory at deep discounts, selling the earlier-generation Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight for just $49 during a "Cyber Monday" promotion following the US Thanksgiving holiday.

Neither effort seems to have encouraged new customers to buy into B&N's ebook ecosystem, however. Ignoring digital content sales, sales of Nook devices and accessories were down 66.7 per cent from last year's holiday period.

Revenues from digital content didn't suffer quite as badly, with sales down 27.3 per cent from the year-ago period – a decline B&N attributes to the combination of reduced hardware sales and lower average sale prices for digital content.

But content sales alone won't rescue the Nook division. Even with dramatically reduced sales volume, device sales accounted for $88.7m of the group's revenue for the holiday period, or 71 per cent of the $125m total.

By comparison, B&N's core retail business, including its bookstores and its e-commerce site, brought in revenues of $1.1bn during the holiday period. And while that, too, was a decline, retail sales were only down 5.5 per cent from the year-ago period – a far cry from the massive slump experienced by the Nook division.

Meanwhile, Amazon – arguably the biggest competitor to both B&N's retail business and its Nook division – reported revenues up 24 per cent year-over-year for the third quarter of its fiscal 2013 in October, and is expected to report its fourth-quarter earnings toward the end of January.

B&N will report its full third-quarter results, including the holiday period, on or around February 27 – but shareholders probably shouldn't get their hopes up. ®


Other stories you might like

  • India reveals home-grown server that won't worry the leading edge

    And a National Blockchain Strategy that calls for gov to host BaaS

    India's government has revealed a home-grown server design that is unlikely to threaten the pacesetters of high tech, but (it hopes) will attract domestic buyers and manufacturers and help to kickstart the nation's hardware industry.

    The "Rudra" design is a two-socket server that can run Intel's Cascade Lake Xeons. The machines are offered in 1U or 2U form factors, each at half-width. A pair of GPUs can be equipped, as can DDR4 RAM.

    Cascade Lake emerged in 2019 and has since been superseded by the Ice Lake architecture launched in April 2021. Indian authorities know Rudra is off the pace, and said a new design capable of supporting four GPUs is already in the works with a reveal planned for June 2022.

    Continue reading
  • Prisons transcribe private phone calls with inmates using speech-to-text AI

    Plus: A drug designed by machine learning algorithms to treat liver disease reaches human clinical trials and more

    In brief Prisons around the US are installing AI speech-to-text models to automatically transcribe conversations with inmates during their phone calls.

    A series of contracts and emails from eight different states revealed how Verus, an AI application developed by LEO Technologies and based on a speech-to-text system offered by Amazon, was used to eavesdrop on prisoners’ phone calls.

    In a sales pitch, LEO’s CEO James Sexton told officials working for a jail in Cook County, Illinois, that one of its customers in Calhoun County, Alabama, uses the software to protect prisons from getting sued, according to an investigation by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

    Continue reading
  • Battlefield 2042: Please don't be the death knell of the franchise, please don't be the death knell of the franchise

    Another terrible launch, but DICE is already working on improvements

    The RPG Greetings, traveller, and welcome back to The Register Plays Games, our monthly gaming column. Since the last edition on New World, we hit level cap and the "endgame". Around this time, item duping exploits became rife and every attempt Amazon Games made to fix it just broke something else. The post-level 60 "watermark" system for gear drops is also infuriating and tedious, but not something we were able to address in the column. So bear these things in mind if you were ever tempted. On that note, it's time to look at another newly released shit show – Battlefield 2042.

    I wanted to love Battlefield 2042, I really did. After the bum note of the first-person shooter (FPS) franchise's return to Second World War theatres with Battlefield V (2018), I stupidly assumed the next entry from EA-owned Swedish developer DICE would be a return to form. I was wrong.

    The multiplayer military FPS market is dominated by two forces: Activision's Call of Duty (COD) series and EA's Battlefield. Fans of each franchise are loyal to the point of zealotry with little crossover between player bases. Here's where I stand: COD jumped the shark with Modern Warfare 2 in 2009. It's flip-flopped from WW2 to present-day combat and back again, tried sci-fi, and even the Battle Royale trend with the free-to-play Call of Duty: Warzone (2020), which has been thoroughly ruined by hackers and developer inaction.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021