The Secret Weapon Of Barnes & Noble

There has been plenty of coverage about the Barnes & Noble Nook eBook reader.

All of it has overlooked something that’s very important.

Barnes & Noble is also a publisher.

And I don’t mean some cheap little public domain reprint POD house (such as, say, Google).

These guys have a true appreciation for books and writers.

Most people don’t know this.

But I do and here’s what most people don’t know…

At the beginning of this century, I was part of an online group and someone posted about seeing an extraordinary documentary called Stone Reader. The praise was so effusive, I looked it up on the web, found out when it was playing in New York City, and went to see it.

This is its trailer:


Oh, that documentary was wonderful. It had to be the biggest love letter ever written to any writer.

What came out of it was that Barnes & Noble brought that book, The Stones of Summer, back into print. (See part of a press release issued at that time; see Publishers Weekly coverage at that time; even Maud Newton had a mention at her site!).


But not just that. They had writer Dow Mossman out to New York City to launch the re-publication and several hundred people showed up (I was one of them). (Wow, I just spoiled the documentary with that revelation. Forget you read it!)

Now how many of you can imagine Amazon ever doing something like that? Amazon is not a bookseller or a publisher — Amazon is an online version of Wal-Mart.

Can you imagine writer-robbing Google doing that? Cue my bitter laugh.

No. Barnes & Noble did that.

And they did it when there wasn’t the attention they have today, post-Nook.

And that is Barnes & Noble’s secret weapon: they give a shit about books and writers.

They’ll be able to offer exclusive books that Amazon, Google, and others, will never be able to sell.

I’ve surprised myself by having two prior posts here mentioning Dow Mossman, one in which I stated:

Barnes & Noble will do what Borders has never done: promote the hell out of eBooks as if their life depended on it.

Emphasis in the original.

And another one in which I searched for The Stones of Summer as an eBook.

Barnes & Noble is keen to escape the fate of Tower Records, so expect them to really push it.

They’ve already shown with the design of the Nook that they aren’t content to do what everyone else has been doing.

Perhaps they will even revive the flagging fortunes of the Lost Books Club.


The Stones of Summer website
NPR Studio 360 interview with filmmaker Mark Moscowitz (RealPlayer streaming format; scroll down)
Wikipedia entry for writer Dow Mossman

Previously here:

Barnes & Noble eReader For Android Coming?
Barnes & Noble Nook OOPS!
The Barnes & Noble Nook Revealed
Barnes & Noble Secret Nook Trademark Filing
The eBook Bubble: Save Your Money!
Barnes & Noble’s Mightywords? Quamut? Qwiki? Reader
Barnes & Noble Strange Trademarks
Is Fictionwise Burning eBooks?
Seekrit Barnes & Noble eBook Reader
Writer Nick Cave At NYC Barnes & Noble
Brave New Bluenoses
2009: Massive eBook Changes Ahead
Dying Dinosaurs Of Print: No Pity From Me!
eBooks: The Invisible Worm
Writer Norman Spinrad: Order To Net
Dow Mossman

6 Responses to The Secret Weapon Of Barnes & Noble

  1. I don’t think anyone questions B&N’s intent to fully support the Nook, the question is whether or not it will be to the detriment of their primary business: physical stores selling printed books. Exclusive books are a great marketing tactic, print or ebook, but unless they go all out and start bidding against publishers for the big name authors, the long tail isn’t going to keep them viable the way it does for Amazon.

    They’re in a similar situation as print magazines that realized, too late, that online advertising could not offset the declines in print advertising.

    The publishing business is going to get smaller and nichier, and B&N is going to face the same issues every business with expensive legacy systems and physical footprints are dealing with. The one thing that might save them is Borders finally going under so they can be the only major national player left.

    • mikecane says:

      I disagree about their bookstores being a burden. Remember the Editis video, that showed the store selling both print and e? That’ll will soon be B&N. And who’s to say that B&N will remain in its current incarnation? They could frikkin *franchise* to all the indie bookstores currently dying in the squeeze between Wal-Mart/KMart/Amazon and eBooks.

      Borders is in big, big trouble. Only *now* have they started promoting the Sony Reader. My God! There’s now a *poster* for them in a window at the Wall Street area store. They’ve never done that before.

  2. chris says:

    B&N is doomed in its current form.

    • mikecane says:

      IBM was once doomed too. It changed. So can B&N. And being the strongest of the book-selling duopoly, it will force *many* changes on the entire print publishing world too.

  3. Chris Kubica says:

    Well maybe B&N isn’t doomed. But our Blockbuster video just had a “store closing” fixture sale last week. No matter what Blockbuster does, they seem to be steadily dying anyway. People just don’t need the plastic circles anymore.

    I think big stores filled with paper books’s days are numbered also. So maybe they’ll turn into an intellectual’s department store, but that’s not the same as a book superstore. It’s something new and…probably good!

    Just my opinion. :)

  4. […] publisher FIRST, and still IS a publisher, there’s a good possibility that they could be the general e-book alternative to the e-publisher romance storefronts like My Bookstore and […]

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