updated 12:55 pm EST, Wed February 23, 2011
Barnes & Noble claims quarter of US e-book market
Barnes & Noble in posting results for its most recent quarter late Tuesday claimed to have gained market share for e-books in the US. The company claimed to have moved from its usual fifth of the market to 25 percent. It tied the success to that of the Nook and noted that it was selling twice as many e-books as any paper books online.
The company declined to say how many Nooks or e-book downloads it had sold, making the number difficult to quantify. Amazon has previously said the Kindle had 70 to 80 percent share, but it will likely have had to lose share for the Nook to carve out its claimed stake. Internationally, the Nook was estimated to have had a third of the Kindle's share.
Its results came as its emphasis on the Nook ate significantly into profits. The company's profit dropped 25 percent from year to year to $60.6 million and has led it to cancel its usual shareholder dividend to roll the cash into its e-book store and devices. Some of the expansion would be opportunism as the company plans to set up shop in a handful of the newly vacant stores triggered by Borders' bankruptcy. Many of these will focus on more non-paper products.
The Nook has been vital to helping Barnes & Noble fend off the pressure on traditional books but faces stiff pressure from multiple angles. Along with readers and services from Amazon and Borders' preferred Kobo, it has had to deal with competition from tablets like the iPad and, increasingly, Android devices like the Galaxy Tab or the upcoming Xoom. Having a dedicated real-world bookstore has been a minor edge by giving Barnes & Noble a place to show the Nook in its ideal light, and the release of the Nook Color may have helped keep a hold on converts who would have had no choice but to go to the iPad for color magazines and newspapers.