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Microsoft invests $300-million in B&N nook and college division

04.30.2012, Uncategorized, by .

The eBook world is being driven by major tech companies.

Amazon created the modern eBook universe four years ago with the introduction of the Kindle. They pushed and prodded publishers to supply files for sale. They pushed the prices down and were willing to take a loss on every sale to build the market. Today they dominate it with over 65% market share. Plus Amazon continues to drive the market.

Apple entered the eBook world 2 1/2 years ago with the iBookstore and the introduction of the iPad. They made a huge splash, created a new set of terms (agency selling with them taking 30% of each sale) and have solidified a place in selling eBooks. Apple has 10-12% of the market. The Agency plan is under attack from the DOJ. But regardless of the outcome, Apple will be fine. Apple is focused on Education anyway.

Google entered eBook selling a year ago. After a few mis-steps, they are still trying to decide on the right strategy. Google has less than 1% market-share, doesn’t have a dedicated device and doesn’t seem to spend that much time interacting with the eBook area.

B&N has surprisingly gained 23% of the market for eBooks. But they have lost millions of dollars. Amazon is selling eBooks below cost and can afford to lose one each sale. B&N was forced to match (lose money) or sell at a higher retail (lose customers). B&N nook could not afford to play this game much longer. B&N also had a poor integration of the College stores digital efforts and the Nook. The two are not even compatible! Apple has targeted education and is putting major support behind it. Again, B&N was getting squeezed.

But with Microsoft now a substantial player, the game has changed again. Will they make a difference? Will the MS-BN partnership create a string competitor to Apple and Amazon? Who knows? But what we do know, is without this influx of cash, B&N was not going to survive.

The eBook playing field was leveled a bit today.

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