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Friday, July 19, 2013

Barnes and Noble blunders again

Yesterday, I received yet another polite message from Draft2Digital, a creator and distributor of eBooks that is being explored by Old Salt Press.

Unusually, it was not their usual prompt attention to a technical question, but an announcement of an emergency.


This afternoon Barnes & Noble removed all Draft2Digital titles from sale without warning. Within hours we resolved the issue, but it will take their support team some time to return these books to the Barnes & Noble bookstore.

We recognize that this represents not only an inconvenience, but a significant financial setback for you. You have our sincerest apologies. We are doing everything within our power to resolve the situation quickly, but until we do, your titles may be unavailable for purchase.

We are monitoring the affected titles and will notify you by email as they return to sale. Thank you for your patience.

Kris Austin
President and CEO
Draft2Digital, LLC

True to their word, the extremely efficient D2D gurus had the Old Salt Press books up on Nook within hours.  But was D2D the only firm involved, or did it affect others (like smashwords) as well?

I don't know.  Nor do I know why it happened. Presumably it was a technical glitch.

But it's one more instance of the terrible time they are having over at B&N.

As Jeremy Greenfield over at Digital Book World meditates, they are experiencing a very rough summer.

The company had a bad earnings report followed by the announcement of a plan to shutter its homegrown tablet business. Then it jettisoned its CEO.

So, what’s next? According to one observer, the best option might just be to divest Nook to Microsoft (assuming that’s an option) and focus on managing the decline of the bricks-and-mortar retail operation.

 With fairly strong EBITDA numbers in its last fiscal year (the retail and college bookstores netting nearly half a billion dollars in profit), it might not be a “decline” that needs managing. A slowdown in the U.S. in the growth of the ebook business and the deterioration of the print book business means it might just be the right time for bookstores to make a little bit of a comeback, he says.

And that would be a very good thing.  The last thing the industry wants is for another major bricks-and-mortar chain to collapse.

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