updated 10:45 am EDT, Fri July 30, 2010
Nook boutiques to counter iPad, Kindle at retail
Barnes & Noble stepped up its e-reader efforts by taking a visibly Apple-like approach to selling the Nook. The company's bookstores will now have Nook Boutiques, or 1,000 square foot sections of the store dedicated solely to its devices. The areas will have tables with demo units arranged like its competitor's and will have a similar wall of accessories, such as cases.
More staff will be devoted to selling Nooks, and all staff will provide help even for those who plan to use the mobile Nook apps instead of Barnes & Noble's device.
The company is treating its retail presence as a crucial edge in competition and has pointed to the Nook's effect on all of its business since it launched in the fall. Those in its top-tier Members group tend to buy 20 percent more books overall, both digital and paper, after getting a Nook. Exactly one quarter of all Nook buyers are new to the company's online store. It has also taken steps to lure in more buyers through the online component by letting Nook owners get complete free books or otherwise read for free while in store.
Amazon in comparison only added a retail footprint through a deal with Target that took full effect this June. Without a large physical presence, it hasn't given most buyers an opportunity to try the Kindle before buying and also can't advertise to traditional book buyers.
Apple doesn't have the advantage of a presence in bookstores, but much of the iPad's early success has been attributed to a wide retail network that includes its roughly 300 stores, Apple resellers and major chains such as Best Buy.