The Nook might just save Barnes & Noble if they commit to becoming a Nookstore instead of a Bookstore…making ebooks the primary focus of their brick-and-mortar stores as well as their website. That's the thesis of an interesting article from CNN Money.
"Barnes & Noble didn't get into this market very early, but when they got into this, they got into this very smart," says Forrester research analyst James McQuivey about the company's ereader. "They went in with with both feet, quickly got a device on the market as opposed to picking someone to partner up with like Borders did, and when the firestorm in 2010 hit, they already had their device ready to go. Borders did not." (Pop quiz: Do you even know the name of the Borders ereader? It's called the Kobo. And it's nowon clearance for $60 at Borders stores that are liquidating.)
In fact, McQuivey thinks Barnes & Noble has a better than 50% chance of making the switch to digital if it becomes even more aggressive about its Nook hardware, software, ebook and accessory business. And there is room for growth. Based on a Goldman Sachs analyst report, the Nook business is on a hockey-stick growth curve, with sales going from $62 million in 2009 (the year the device launched) to an estimated $1.163 billion for 2012. Meanwhile, the book business — sales at brick and mortar locations — will decrease, according to the same estimates, from $4.37 billion this year to $3.95 billion for the company's fiscal year 2012.
In other words, the day is fast approaching when ebooks will drive B&Ns sales and paper books will be little more than colorful decor in their Nookstores. Or, as the article concludes:
Regardless of the path executives take, the Barnes & Noble of the future (if there is one, of course) will probably look nothing like it does today. The company could even choose to drop the name altogether and let Nook become the consumer-facing brand.