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Will the Failed Nook Kill Barnes & Noble?

As new technologies have turned the book publishing industry on its head, the U.S.’s largest chain bookstore’s push to embrace digital may lead to its ultimate demise. As Barnes & Noble raced to compete with Apple and Amazon in the eReader and tablet business hoping to own marketshare on eBook sales, the company lost hundreds of millions of dollars.

And let’s face it, a physical bookstore in an era of cheap e-commerce options doesn’t give them a lot of cash to spare. The company is now without a CEO after William Lynch, who spearheaded the Nook business plan, was forced to quit. Barnes & Noble’s biggest mistake seems to be forgetting about people’s love of print books and banking on eBook sales, which so far have steadied out around 20% of book sales.

The future of Barnes & Noble remains uncertain. Even though ninety-five percent of their physical stores are profitable, as Bloomberg Businessweek reports, bad moves in the Nook business may not be able to sustain the company.

Mike Shatzkin, founder/CEO of The Idea Logical Company told Bloomberg Businessweek: “Barnes & Noble cannot ultimately escape the fate of Blockbuster and Virgin [Megastore]. But they have to make the slide into oblivion more gradual…Does Barnes & Noble have 3 years or 10 years? I don’t know. But it doesn’t have 20 years, that’s for sure. They have to manage their disappearance or turn into something completely different.”

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