The End of Barnes & Noble

Moneybox
A blog about business and economics.
Feb. 14 2013 5:33 PM

The End of Barnes & Noble

160399255
Al Gore promotes his new book, 'The Future' at Barnes & Noble Union Square on January 30, 2013 in New York City.

Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images

Barnes & Noble has put out a genuinely impressive performance over the past several years. Here you have a retail chain, originating from a bookstore in New York City, that saw its industry being disrupted and rather nimbly decided it wanted to make a piece of computer hardware. And, amazingly, the Nook is a pretty good piece of computer hardware. If the iPad and the Galaxy Tab and the Microsoft Surface and the Kindle Fire didn't exist, you'd say the Nook was a revolutionary device.

The problem is that it's not the best such device on the market. Or even the second best. Or even the third best. And while some industries have room for many global players (think cars—GM, Volkswagen, Toyota, Hyundai, Ford, Nissan, PSA, Honda, Renault, etc.) it looks like there's only room for two or three platforms in this game. And B&N doesn't have one. Today they announced that contrary to earlier reports, losses in the Nook division are going to grow this year rather than staying flat. And all sales across both the Web and brick-and-mortar stores fell nearly 11 percent. They're doing an impressive job of staving off collapse in the face of massive disruption, but not good enough.

Advertisement

It makes me sad, personally. Before Barnes & Noble was a national behemoth it was just my neighborhood bookstore, as I grew up blocks away from the original shop. I always liked to root for it against Borders. But it won't be long for this world.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

Stop Panicking. America Is Now in Very Good Shape to Respond to the Ebola Crisis.

The 2014 Kansas City Royals Show the Value of Building a Mediocre Baseball Team

The GOP Won’t Win Any Black Votes With Its New “Willie Horton” Ad

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Technocracy

Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

One of Putin’s Favorite Oligarchs Wants to Start an Orthodox Christian Fox News

These Companies in Japan Are More Than 1,000 Years Old

Trending News Channel
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 20 2014 1:50 PM Why We Shouldn’t Be Too Sure About the Supposed Deal to Return the Abducted Nigerian Schoolgirls
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 20 2014 7:23 PM Chipotle’s Magical Burrito Empire Keeps Growing, Might Be Slowing
  Life
Dear Prudence
Oct. 20 2014 3:12 PM Terror Next Door Prudie advises a letter writer whose husband is dangerously, violently obsessed with the neighbors.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 1:10 PM Women Are Still Losing Jobs for Getting Pregnant
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 20 2014 9:13 PM The Smart, Talented, and Utterly Hilarious Leslie Jones Is SNL’s Newest Cast Member
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 20 2014 4:59 PM Canadian Town Cancels Outdoor Halloween Because Polar Bears
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Oct. 20 2014 11:46 AM Is Anybody Watching My Do-Gooding? The difference between being a hero and being an altruist.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.