Change is constant and the digital age is moving us away from physical content to electronic. As a bookseller, Barnes & Noble must have asked themselves the question, what is my strategic purpose and how do I stay relevant in a changing world. They have created a physical place to purchase reading materials, audios and videos, and grab a cup of coffee. But that world is changing, slowly at first, but moving toward a digital direction. And so to remain relevant as purchase behaviors shift, Barnes & Noble recognizes the importance of being the distribution point, both with brick and mortar and with virtual. Their purchase of Fictionwise is that first step.
So how do they compete with Amazon and the Kindle. Will content be available to be read on a Kindle or Sony e-reader or all or something of their own making. Will it make deals to have exclusive digital rights to certain content? And should they integrate e-books into their physical stores so that the purchase of a book includes a free or discounted e-version as well. How do they differentiate from Amazon and others to remain competitive as usage patterns evolve.
Theaters didn't go away when movies were available directly in the home. Book stores shouldn't go away either. Consumers like to get out of the house and Barnes & Nobel provides a place to hang out, discover new ideas, and relax. Creating an impetus to come in the store to download as opposed to just downloading at home could keep this bookseller relevant to the tech savvy consumer. The growth of e-books is fast although the aggregate is still a sliver of total book purchases. Change may not be quick but it seems to be coming and Barnes & Nobel seems to recognize that they need to adapt as well.