Monday, May 24, 2010

Booksellers, Especially Barnes And Noble, Are Becoming Tablet Players

This morning, Barnes and Noble offers a glimpse into what the future of booksellers will do to remain relevant in the changing world of readers. Since the Nook, Barnes and Noble has introduced a second reader, Novel, this one also based on Google’s Android platform, called Novel for $199.

I’m not here to bore you with a detailed piece about it. You can go to CNet for that. But and Noble’s strategy is coming clear. It means to not only be a bookseller, digital or physical, but it is transforming into a mobile player.

With the line blurring between readers and tablets, Barnes and Noble is leveraging its name to take advantage of the young tablet sector. And I think they’ll be big.

Barnes and Noble superstores are where people go to buy not only books but to congregate. It is a family-friendly environment and the people who work there are generally folks who are knowledgeable and offer great services. It’s a brand that has loyal followings and is trusted.

Now, if I’m Google, Microsoft, or Apple, I would take a long hard look at Barnes and Noble as well as Borders. Why? Borders has more than 500 superstores while Barnes And Noble has more than seven hundreds.

Both companies are super cheap if you want to expand into the retail market. Apple can purchase one of the brand and put in Apple stores as well. For Google or Microsoft, it also makes sense. Either of these companies, with one purchase, can catch up to Apple’s retail presence.

Not only that, Borders’ market value is much cheaper than Barnes and Noble’s $1.2 billion. If one of three mobile companies I mentioned purchases Borders and the other two follows, it can force them to pay a premium and waste a vast amount of their cash in the process. I know that all three companies are cash-rich but any time you make the other guy pay more, it’s a win for you.

Apple-Borders Or Google-Barnes and Noble. Or MS Borders? What do you think?  Microsoft certainly needs to play a little catch up.

Note: Given how Barnes and Noble will soon have two Android-based ereaders, it makes sense for Google to pull the trigger on this idea of mine.

Another note: For Microsoft, I'd offer a full range of Microsoft products as I suggest Apple should do in these superstores. It can sure help make a splashing for Windows Phone 7 products.

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