Nook Retailing

[Updated later with a photograph of the Nook setup at the B&N on Fifth Avenue near 42nd Street.]

nookSo yesterday I wandered into the Barnes & Noble at Union Square, and I beheld for the first time the retailing set up in the brick-and-mortar stores for the Nook, their super-sleek ereader. I should have snapped a picture with my phone, but I am lazier than the dead and simply wandered around with my mouth open going, “Nnnh… Nnnh? Nnnh!” and so on.

What I find interesting is that they’ve given the Nook an enormous amount of real estate in the store, basically tearing out four (five?) wall units of shelving and getting rid of two or three big tables—real estate which has, in the past, been given over to the display of physical books. This is no mere nook. Instead, we have a barren, future-aesthetic wall with the “Nook” legend, with the Nooks in plastic bubble containers on a shelf behind a counter, and a sullen-faced teenager between the counter and the Nooks, granting access. (This is probably only a requirement in New York City, where strange people might wander in, cry, “Nnnh!”, grab a Nook, and make a break for freedom.)

This is both alarming (goodbye physical retailing of books) and awesome (hello mass-market acceptance; you cannot miss this display). And really shows how very aggressively B&N is being about taking over this market from Amazon. Hell, they’re even going to market other maker’s devices—because B&N understands that content is key, and devices are just a means.

Have any of you seen the new retail set-ups? How does it strike you?

  1. I can’t go look. Like everyone else in Colorado Springs, I am huddled by a window waiting for a storm to hit. Not one flake has fallen, but school is already delayed so that children can watch for flakes, too.

    I’ll check out B&N next week. Must watch for flakes.


  2. I walked into a B&N in South Jersey yesterday and their Nook display was the same size as one of the computers set up for browsing titles in the store. I didn’t even see any of the physical Nooks for sale, unless I was looking in the wrong place for the Nooks. In case you can’t tell, I enjoy typing “Nook.”

    Maybe they’re thinking us South Jerseyites (or is it South Jerseyonians?) aren’t the ideal market, what with our fat fingers and poor eye sight?



  3. Anita – I’m assuming the snow has hit you because we’re getting buried in Parker right now. School is canceled so my 5-yo is doing a happy dance around the living room. Luckily, the book Half-Magic that Michael recommended came in the mail yesterday so I’ll start that with him today.

    As far as the Nook goes, I haven’t been to B&N recently – our closest bookstore is a Borders, but I’m such an old-fashioned gal that I’m trying to ignore the inevitable triumph of technology. This news makes me realize I won’t be able to live in denial much longer. Excuse me while I go curl up on the couch with my kids and read some real books – before we go build a snowman.


  4. Sounds like B&N wants to convince its brick-and-mortar customers that using a Nook can (and will) be an integral part of their in-store experience — that reading ebooks doesn’t mean they have to sit all alone in front of their home computer screen.

    I haven’t seen a display yet (though now I really want to), but I think B&N will have better success getting paper-only readers to try an ebook than Amazon, because those readers can get Special Bonus Material by doing something they already love to do: visit a bookstore.


  5. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by nomadshan, Upstart Crow. Upstart Crow said: Now on the Upstart Crow blog: Nook Retailing ( […]


  6. Haven’t seen it yet here in Alabama, but I was in B&N this past weekend where they had Nook fliers at the registers. The lady behind the desk saw me pick one up and directed me to go online to see “a cool video about how to use it.” Lots and lots of engineers and rocket scientists (really) where I live, so I imagine Nooks and the like will catch on here 🙂

    I’m sorry to see physical books lose shelf space, but I like Shannon’s comment about B&N trying to convince customers than Nooks can be part of an in-store experience.


  7. Mark von Bargen (Dir. of Children’s Sales at Macmillan) just gave an interesting talk at an SCBWI event. He took photos of displays at B&N and Borders. The Nook wasn’t part of the talk, but it was very obvious from his pics. how hard it is for a new writer to get shelf space, face-outs, etc.
    B&N had a whole wall devoted to books from their own imprint. The Wimpy Kid series got its own LARGE display shelf (I’m a fan, but a whole shelf?). The photo of the picture book wall in Borders could have been shot 20 yrs. ago. Lots of examples that stores (and publishers) are going with proven sellers. Wonder how/if the Nook will change that.


  8. Ordered a Nook for my daughter for Christmas, and I’m so excited…maybe because I get to play with it first and download some books to it. LOL! I do love B&N idea of reading books for free inside the store, that’s awesome, and a very good marketing ploy on their part.

    I still love real books and so does my daughter, but she has (I kid you not) 28 books just on the shelf under and on her nightstand. That’s the “currently reading” group. There are roughly 80+ more on other shelves in her room. She can read and re-read and re-read again, and have 4-5 going at one time. It’s freakish. But I’m glad she reads, and I’m thinking the Nook is justified.


  9. I’m trying to embrace the idea of e-readers. I really am. But unless the nook can make that lovely soft crunching sound when the pages turn, I know I’m going to be left with an empty hole in my heart–no matter how good the story.

    That being said, although I’ve read a ton about the nook, I haven’t actually seen one in Minnesota. But then, everythng takes awhile to find us here . . .


  10. I don’t care for the name of the gizmo. If they come out with a smaller version, will it be a Nookie? Then, if people go to B&N and ask for a little Nookie, will they be arrested for soliciting?

    I haven’t seen the Nook yet (I live in a rural area), but I might check one out the next time I’m in a B&N. In the meantime, I kind of like using the B&N reader I downloaded to my iPod Touch.


  11. In the above bookstore visual, I see books in the background and in the foreground I see ____________________________________________________


  12. I will not look,
    I will not look
    Inside a Nook,
    I cannot read
    A little Book
    Inside a Nook,
    Inside a Nook.
    I’ll settle down
    Instead with cookie.
    And read a little Book
    Not Nookie.




  13. It’s late at night… or early in the morning…?

    But currently I an rolling-on-the-floor-laughing with Becky, trying not to wonder with Martha, sighing with Jane, and nostalgically thinking sadly about all those missing crisp paper sounds with Anne.

    The nook sounds so futuristic to me. It’s exactly what I’ve read about in every sci-fi in the late eighties and early nineties. So it’s here… now… and soon in the palms of our hands. That thought is as freakishly weird to me as the alien that was contacted soon after.

    I also think it is great and very earth friendly.

    And then I’m thinking what this will do to book sales. *nervously bites fingernails*

    I guess overall I believe it will be a good thing, and I’m hoping very much that sales will only get better when heavy books don’t need to be lugged around.

    I will still miss the smell and feel of a real book….

    But I like the sound of a little nookie. I wonder if there is any chance they will start using that to market the new ones. Becky, you should copyright that phrase and make a fortune when you ‘suggest’ it to the publicity department. We can all say we heard it here first!


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