Barnes and Noble is a 6.8 billion company with 675 locations throughout the country, which also operates 686 college bookstores that make up the company’s Nook Media unit. During the tenure of William Lynch as the head of Nook Media in 2010-2013, the company suffered significant losses (Berfield). This paper aims to consider the causes of Lynch’s failure, as well as suggest strategies for saving the company and describe the most appealing passages of Berfield’s article “The End: Barnes & Noble in Silicon Valley.”
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One of the reasons for the failure was an erroneous approach to market positioning. Barnes and Noble developed their first primitive e-reader back in 2001; modern e-reader Nook was presented only in 2009. Nook remained the market leader until Steve Jobs introduces his first iPad three months later. As a response, Nook Media created the Nook Color tablet (Berfield). However, it could not compete with Apple, as it did not have access to the app store and a camera, although it was lighter, smaller, and less expensive. Moreover, Barnes and Noble did not have the financial capabilities of Apple.
Besides, there was an inconsistency between the Barnes and Noble and Nook Media businesses. Critics say Lynch did not consider Nook Media as part of the bookstore business and did not use bookstore opportunities to promote his products. Successful startups are usually based on applying startup tools and technology, the engaged attitude of the founders, and the startup development methodology. Lynch’s focus on technology and lack of attention to the promotion of his product could be the main reason for his failure. The apparent disinterest of the founders of Barnes and Noble also played a role.
Thus, the following aspects should be considered to make the Nook Media business more successful. Firstly, Nook Media is not an independent tech company; it is only developing and selling expensive accessories for the Barnes and Nobles book chain. In this regard, it should be engaged in market development and contribute to product diversification. Nook Media should sell content – not only e-reading devices but e-books as well. Besides, more features should be introduced to the Nook e-reader to attract buyers.
Also, Barnes and Noble should develop a bright and tempting advertising campaign. For example, they can give away some devices, putting it as when customers buy a device for $ 50, they receive $ 50 credit in the bookstores. Nook Media could place e-codes on paper books so that bookstores’ visitors could buy an electronic analog of the paper book. A 50% discount on an e-book when buying a paper book will also work well. Bookstores could become showrooms that could be provided for Amazon buyers as well by establishing a partnership with Amazon on certain conditions. Considering that 20% of buyers prefer e-books, Nook Media is capable of becoming a profitable business.
It is interesting to note that critics accused Lynch of incompetence due to enormous losses incurred by the company, although Lynch himself saw his approach as a ‘tech mentality.’ He was not recognized by Leonardo Riggio, his employer, and was broadly criticized by former Nook Media employees. It seems rather strange since both Riggio and the employees of Nook Media had a first-hand opportunity to influence the situation. Brynner, the industrial designer, who still works in Nook Media, noted that although Lynch made decisions on his own, he did not establish ‘maniacal autocracy.’
Thus, the mistakes of William Lynch’s approach were examined, and ways to save the business were proposed. In summary, the main mistake was the lack of clear and coherent goals between Nook Media and Barnes and Noble. To make Nook Media’s business more successful, Lynch should have remembered that Nook Media was not an independent entity but a part of the Barnes and Noble bookstore empire. Thus, he should have focused his effort on selling content, not e-devices, and develop an effective advertising campaign targeted at visitors to Barnes and Noble bookstores.
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Berfield, Susan. “The End: Barnes & Noble in Silicon Valley.” Bloomberg, 2013. Web.