Tuesday, March 8, 2016

RIP, Nook UK. We hardly knew ye.

Beware the Ides of March has new meaning in 2016.

Over the weekend, Barnes & Noble announced its plans to shutter the Nook UK shop. Starting March 15--or 15 March, if you're reading this in the UK--B&N will stop selling digital content. By May 31, though, Nook UK will disappear into the ethos forever.

I can't say I'm totally surprised by this. I don't believe Barnes & Noble did a good job of promoting the Nook in the UK, and Amazon had beat it to the punch in launching Kindle there in 2011. And I couldn't tell you how the Sainsbury aspect of this will work out, regarding its reading app in the UK. I'm not there. Apple and Kobo, though, should make their moves in the UK now in order to grab that market.

The question now, of course, is how long Nook has remaining here in the United States? That I couldn't tell you. I have no idea, really. What I do know is back in December, Barnes & Noble's stock plunged 17 percent, and had fallen 34 percent across the entirety of the year. Nook sales, according to that link, went from just shy of $160 million in the second quarter of FY-2014, to a smidge above $40 million in the second quarter of FY-2016.

I'm not an economics expert, but I can't believe that's sustainable. What is clear to me, though, is this: Nook is spiraling. What could have been a solid competitor to Amazon fell short.

And I think you all know my feelings about Nook, anyway. I'm not too saddened to see it go the way of the dinosaur. I've never been a fan of the platform, having tried out the devices at my local B&N store in the past. They just didn't look easy to use; the interface just felt clunky to me. And their in-store sales claims that they have the largest bookstore in the world and access to every ebook available is laughable, and downright false; a few years ago, I actually laughed in a saleswoman's face when they said they have the largest ebook library in the world. Apparently, they have their heads in the sand regarding Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Select. Not that I actually agree with Kindle Select and Kindle Unlimited, but you get the gist of what I'm saying.

People have always asked me what I feel they should buy for their e-reading needs, and I always suggest Kindle. I always have, and I always will. My suggestion to current Nook users here in the US: convert your Nook books to the .mobi format using Calibre, and buy a Kindle, then transfer the files via USB.

Caveat emptor, gang.