Nook HD Fire Sale, Nook HD+ Fire Sale

For Father’s Day, B&N is having a massive Nook HD Fire Sale, and an even bigger Nook HD+ Fire Sale.

  1. Nook HD is now just $129 – That’s $70 cheaper than the original price of $199. It’s also $50 cheaper than the on-sale $179 Kindle Fire HD.
  2. Nook HD+ is now just $149 – That’s $120 cheaper than the original price of $269. It’s also $100 cheaper than the on-sale $249 Kindle Fire HD 8.9″.

These prices are ridiculously low.

For reference, the Nook HD is now around the same price as the Kindle Paperwhite. The Nook HD+ is now the same price as Kindle Paperwhite without Ads.

Is Nook HD a steal at $129?

Yes. Let’s consider what you get –

  1. The 7″ Tablet with the absolute best screen resolution and pixel density.
  2. Both Google Play Store (lots of free apps) and Nook App Store (curated apps optimized for Nook HD).
  3. ePub support.
  4. Option to read Kindle Books or Nook Books or books from any store that has an Android App.
  5. An extremely well-built Tablet.
  6. It’s very light and compact – much more so than Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD.
  7. A profiles feature that is very useful for families.
  8. There are downsides – B&N is going to get out of Tablets, there are some conflicts between Google Play Store and Nook App Store, the software is sluggish sometimes. However, these are minor things compared to the benefits.

Overall, Nook HD is a very good tablet even at $199. Perhaps even better than Kindle Fire HD – especially with its addition of the Google Play Store. At $129 it’s an absolute steal.

I’ve owned Nook HD since launch and it’s the best 7″ Tablet. If you’re in the market for a Tablet, I’d strongly recommend trying out the Nook HD. Remember, you can return it in the first 14 or so days if you don’t like it. Also, you can read your Kindle books on it using Kindle for Android App.

Is Nook HD+ a steal at $149?

This is a massive, massive steal. What you get includes –

  1. A high-definition screen with excellent near retina display level pixel density.
  2. A compact device (for a 9″ Tablet) that’s relatively light.
  3. Google Play Store and Nook App Store.
  4. The option to buy and read books from any store that has an Android App.
  5. A device that really is worth $250 to $270 for just $149.
  6. A Profiles feature that lets you set up separate profiles for family members and friends. It also lets you choose what content is available on each profile.
  7. There are downsides – B&N is leaving the Tablet market perhaps, conflicts between the two app stores, the profiles feature can be buggy sometimes, the software can be sluggish sometimes.

I bought the HD+ for $269 and considered that good value for money. At $149 it’s crazy. You’re getting a $250 tablet for $149. It has Google Play Store so you can access your Kindle Store books via the Kindle for Android App.

While Nook HD+ isn’t the best 8″ to 9″ to 10″ Tablet (that is probably iPad Mini), it’s just as good as Kindle Fire HD 8.9″. At $149 it’s a no-brainer if you’re looking for a large screen tablet.

Are Nook HD and Nook HD+ a better choice than Kindle Fire HD and Kindle Fire HD 8.9″?

At these prices yes. The main reasons why Nook HD and Nook HD+ are better choices than Kindle Fire HD and Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ –

  1. They are MUCH cheaper. $129 and $149 are much cheaper than $179 and $249. Nook HD and Nook HD+ are 72% and 60% of the price of Kindle Fire HD and Kindle Fire HD 8.9″.
  2. You get Google Play Store which has 10 times more apps than Kindle Fire App Store, with most apps free and/or cheap. Additionally, most of the big apps come to Google Play Store before they come to Kindle Fire App Store. In the next 1-2 years Google Play Store might even get precedence over iPad App Store.
  3. You can read books on them from ANY store. With Kindle Fire HD and Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ you can sideload apps and get the same effect – However, it isn’t quite as convenient.
  4. Nook HD and HD+ are more compact and easier to hold. The difference between Nook HD+ and Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ is not much. However, Nook HD is considerably more compact than Kindle Fire HD.
  5. Nook HD and HD+ are better built. For reference, my Nook Color from 3 years ago is still going strong.
  6. Nook HD screen is clearly better than Kindle Fire HD screen. Nook HD+ screen is around as good as the Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ screen.
  7. Nook HD and HD+ come with SD Card slots. This is very, very useful with a Tablet. Just a few HD movies can eat up your existing disk space.

Even at full price, before the Google Play Store was added, I’d consider Nook HD better than Kindle Fire HD. Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ was a bit better than Nook HD+.

Now with Google Play Store added, and with the Nook HD Fire Sale and the Nook HD+ Fire Sale, it’s a no-brainer.

Nook HD at $129 and Nook HD+ at $149 are great, great prices. If you’re in the market for a Tablet, do take a look.

Is Kindle Fire HD killing Nook HD? Is it iPad Mini? Nook HD at $125 now

B&N is now offering Nook HD for $125 and Nook HD+ for $145. These are coupons mailed to B&N Members.

Have Kindle Fire HD and iPad Mini hurt Nook HD so badly that, even after adding Google Play Store, B&N still has to sell Nook HD for $125?

For reference, $125 is about the same as the Kindle Paperwhite with Ads ($119).

Is Nook HD really just $125?

Yes, B&N is sending out coupons to B&N members advertising Nook HD at $125 – that’s $74 less than the launch price of $199. It is also offering Nook HD+ at $145 – a massive $124 less than the launch price of $269.

For reference –

  1. Kindle Fire HD is $199.
  2. Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ is $269.
  3. iPad Mini is $329.

Additionally, B&N has already added Google Play Store to the Nook HD and Nook HD+.

It’s pretty much a Fire Sale now.

Why has B&N been forced to drop Nook HD to $125?

Nook Color and Nook Tablet, the two predecessors to Nook HD, were sold for $199 for the first few years after release. The price never even approached $125.

Nook HD is at $125 just 7 months after release.

B&N has already added Google Play Store to Nook HD. That should have led to a boost in sales. However, this latest move i.e. dropping the prices of the Nook HD and Nook HD+ massively, suggests that B&N is either not selling many Nook HDs OR that B&N sees some reason to do a massive stock clear-out.

Let’s consider the possibilities –

  1. Nook HD might not be selling well DESPITE adding Google Play Store.
  2. B&N might have found out that a very good, very competitive iPad Mini 2 or Nexus 7 2 is arriving soon. It might have decided to clear out stock now, while it still can.
  3. B&N might have terrible marketing and awareness. Most people might not even realize this is a good option.
  4. B&N might have found out that Amazon has something really massive lined up for Kindle Fire HD 2. It might have no option other than to clear stock quickly before Kindle Fire HD 2 arrives.
  5. Nook HD might have sold really, really badly during the last holiday season. Which would mean that even if adding Google Play Store increased sales, B&N still has a lot of stock left. This would force it to keep driving prices lower to try and clear Nook HD stock.
  6. B&N might be switching to Windows 8 Tablets. It might be clearing out stock of Nook HD and Nook HD+ to prepare for this change. Google Play Store might be a parting gift to existing Nook HD and Nook HD+ owners.
  7. B&N might have seen that people buying the Nook HD with Google Play Store are STILL buying books and movies from B&N and still earning B&N money. It might have decided to go all-out in gathering up recurring customers.
  8. Perhaps B&N was overly optimistic and/or didn’t plan for an iPad Mini when ordering Nook HD and Nook HD+. Perhaps it has enough units left that it needs to sell a few million of them.

It would be really interesting to get some insight into exactly why B&N has dropped the Nook HD to a ridiculously low $125.

Why is Nook HD facing such hard times?

Perhaps I’m missing something. I don’t understand how we have –

  1. $199 Kindle Fire HD expanding to 170 countries.
  2. Nook HD at $125, which is a comparable Tablet, doing terribly. How could it be doing terribly even after adding Google Play Store?

Is Amazon selling a lot of Kindle Fire HDs? Why is it not running any sales? Did Amazon do a much better job of anticipating sales correctly?

Did B&N make some fundamental mistakes that stalled sales?

It’s not clear why two comparable devices would diverge so wildly in success.

It would be interesting to know what you think the reasons are for Nook HD being on a fire sale while Kindle Fire HD seems to be on fire.

What impact will a $125 Nook HD have on Kindle Fire HD?

It’s hard to say.

Obviously, addition of the Google Play Store doesn’t seem to have done enough for Nook HD sales.

What impact did Nook HD adding Google Play Store have on Kindle Fire HD Sales? It must have slowed sales at least a bit.

What impact will the new $125 Nook HD have on Kindle Fire HD sales? Surely, a $125 Nook HD with Google Play seems more attractive than a $199 Kindle Fire HD with no Google Play?

Are we missing something here? Why is B&N dropping prices so massively?

Kindle vs Nook if B&N ends Nook eReaders and Tablets – It loses 50% of the most important 20% readers

B&N opened up its Nook HD & Nook HD+ Tablets to Google Play Store recently. It also did a massive $50 off and $90 off Sale for Mother’s Day.

This forced Amazon to introduce a temporary $20 discount on the Kindle Fire HD.

Soon after there were reports that B&N was considering selling its Nook unit to Microsoft for $1 billion.

TechCrunch had some additional details and two of these were very interesting (only if true) –

  1. B&N plans to end Nook Tablets by April 2014. This would suggest the Nook HD and Nook HD+ are its last tablets. Which basically means an end to the Kindle Fire HD vs Nook HD competition – the battle of the tiny closed ecosystems.
  2. B&N plans to let eReaders die out naturally – as users transition to Tablets. This doesn’t suggest an end date. However, it does suggest that B&N doesn’t plan to fight. Perhaps it ends Nook eReaders in 2014 or 2015. That would mean the end of Kindle vs Nook.

Both of these are very impactful things.

Kindle vs Nook – A Quick look back

Kindle vs Nook has had many twists and turns –

  1. Amazon introduced the Kindle eInk Reader in November 2007. Everyone (except people who actually read) pretty much wrote it off. However, by mid 2009 it began to seem that the Kindle had a good chance of becoming a hit.
  2. B&N introduced the Nook eInk Reader (with a tiny LCD panel at the bottom for navigation) in October 2009. After this, Amazon and B&N have gone head to head in the eReader market ever since. They have been #1 and #2 for most of that period.
  3. Apple introduced the iPad in March 2010. This threw things off for eReaders as people tended to prefer a multi-purpose Tablet over single purpose Ereaders, especially casual readers. Strange that companies focused on selling books would care about people who don’t want to buy devices dedicated for reading. However, that’s the path Amazon and B&N chose.
  4. B&N introduced the Nook Color. This was a reading Tablet, priced at $200, and focused on reading and reading related functions. The Nook Color took off in a major way – Illustrating that there was huge demand for a low-priced Tablet. At the time, iPad was $499.
  5. Amazon introduced the Kindle Fire in end 2011. B&N introduced the Nook Tablet, an improved version of the Nook Color, around the same time. Thanks to Amazon’s huge customer base, and to strong marketing, Amazon was able to get the lead in ‘Small Tablet’ sales over the Nook Tablet. By lead we mean a 3:1 or 2:1 lead.
  6. 2012 was eventful as we got the iPad Mini and the Nexus 7. Amazon introduced the Kindle Fire HD and the Kindle Fire HD 8.9″. B&N introduced the Nook HD and the Nook HD+ (9″).
  7. Two things happened. Firstly, Amazon and B&N’s attempt to target the iPad failed – mostly because the iPad Mini was a huge hit and beat them to the ‘let’s kill the iPad’ game. Secondly, Kindle Fire HD sold decently but B&N’s Nook HD sold poorly.
  8. Meanwhile, all through 2012 we saw more and more sales go to Tablets and 7″ Tablets and less to eReaders. eReaders were still selling 10 million+ units a year. However, they were no longer growing markets and the long-term future became unclear. We don’t know whether the lack of evolution of eReaders led to poor sales, or whether it was Tablets. However, eReader growth seems to have stalled.

This leaves us in a very interesting position.

  1. In eReaders, we have Kindle at #1, Nook at a strong but distant #2, and Kobo at #3. After that, we have a lot of smaller competitors and Sony. Kindle vs Nook is still very important. B&N routinely advances the state of the art in eReaders and drives innovation.
  2. In 9″ and 10″ Tablets, we have Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ and Nook HD+ as almost non-factors. So Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ vs Nook HD+ is mostly an academic comparison. Most people seem to prefer iPad Mini. Basically, 7″ Tablets and iPad Mini have begun to kill off the 10″ Tablet market.
  3. In 7″ and 8″ Tablets, we have iPad Mini vs Nexus 7 vs Kindle Fire HD (vs Nook HD). Kindle Fire HD vs Nook HD isn’t that important any more – Mostly because Nook HD has lost mind share. With the addition of Google Play Store it’s winning that back. So, perhaps, by mid 2013, Kindle Fire HD vs Nook HD will be meaningful again.

When you consider all this context, it’s going to be a bit sad if B&N leaves the Tablet space in April 2014 and the eReader space in early 2015. Kindle vs Nook will just be an old memory.

What happens if B&N leaves the Tablet space?

Not very much for the general Tablet space.

The best-selling Tablets are – Apple, Samsung, Google and Amazon. Depending on what month you check, one out of Google or Amazon has the #3 spot. By Google we mean the Asus manufactured Google Nexus 7.

Nook was perhaps 5th or 6th. The 5th or 6th player leaving a space doesn’t do much.

The one place it creates an impact is in the space of ‘Reading Tablets’ – a nebulous space catering to people who primarily want a Tablet for reading.

For readers, it made more sense to get a Tablet from Amazon or B&N. If B&N exits the space, then Amazon becomes the clear and obvious choice. This would mean a clear boost for Amazon and Kindle Fire HD sales. Which in turn would greatly strengthen Amazon’s lead in ebooks.

B&N’s supposed 2014 and 2015 strategy  of ending device sales and focusing on Reading Apps runs into a roadblock – Kindle Fire HD does not have a Nook reading App. If most serious readers looking for a Tablet start picking Kindle Fire HD, B&N loses these readers.

Fundamentally, B&N’s strategy is flawed. The 20% of Readers that account for 80% of book sales tend to pick either a dedicated eInk Reader or physical books or a Reading Tablet. By leaving the Reading Tablet space, B&N leaves all these users to Amazon.

These 20% ‘Best’ Customers are the stars of the rest of this post. Their importance grows as we look at Kindle vs Nook in the dedicated eReader Market.

What happens if B&N leaves the eReader Space?

We could partition out serious readers (‘Best’ Customers for Books) as readers who will buy one or more of –

  1. Paper Books.
  2. A dedicated reading device i.e. an eInk Reader.
  3. A Reading Tablet.
  4. A general purpose Tablet.
  5. A mix of one or more of the above.

By leaving the Reading Tablet space, B&N would hand over ‘serious readers’ (the ‘Best’ customers) who want a Reading Tablet to Amazon.

If B&N also leaves the dedicated reading device space (eInk based eReaders), then it also hands over the ‘Best’ Customers who want to buy a device optimized for reading to Amazon.

This creates a huge problem.

  1. Firstly, at least 25%, and perhaps as many as 50%, of the most important readers (those who buy 80% of books) will choose an eInk Reader and/or a Reading Tablet. By leaving these two areas, B&N is giving Amazon the best book buying customers.
  2. Secondly, as Amazon has stated before, people buy MORE books when they get Kindles. 2.7 times more. So these very good customers become great customers after they own an eInk Reader. Perhaps there’s a similar, though not quite as strong, effect when people buy a Reading Tablet.
  3. Thirdly, that 2.7 times figure includes paper books. It makes sense that a person who owns a Kindle and/or a Kindle Fire HD would buy their paper books from Amazon more often. If nothing else, convenience and the relationship/trust means that Amazon is likely to become the #1 choice for paper books too.

Somewhere between 25% to 50% of the ‘Best’ Readers switch over to Amazon.

Of course, this doesn’t factor in that Amazon and B&N have a rough 60% and 30% share of the ‘Best’ readers who have already switched over to eReaders and Reading Tablets. Amazon goes from strong to ridiculously strong. B&N goes from decently strong to very weak – Because the 30% share it already has will move to other devices if B&N stops making eReaders and Reading Tablets.

The Concept of the ‘Best’ Readers

In this age of political correctness, where a customer who spends $1 a year wants to be considered equivalent to a customer who spends $1,000 a year, it is perhaps unacceptable to point out that, in any market, 20% of customers are the ‘Best’ customers. The ones who basically keep the market going. It exists for every market –

  1. In movies, these are the people who watch movies in the theater and buy DVDs and digital movies. Lots of them.
  2. In video games, these are the people buying $60 games and $300 consoles and $2,000 PCs.
  3. In books, these are the people buying hardcovers and lots of books and lots of ebooks.

Whether it meets the political correctness threshold or not, the truth is that the people contributing 80% of the revenues are the ones who are keeping the industry going.

For example: On Pandora, artists get a few pennies per 1,000 songs streamed. A user might listen to Band X 50,000 times and might generate 50 cents for Band X. However, the customer who buys a concert ticket for $50 is 100 times more important. The customer who buys the CD for $10 is 20 times more important.

This is a critical distinction and this also applies to books, whether the Lives in Switzerland, Recycles 5 times a Day, Warrior Chief of Political Correctness likes it or not.

We have the ‘Best’ Readers that are perhaps just 10% to 20% of the customer base – However, these customers generate 60% to 80% of the revenue. They are, in effect, keeping the books industry alive.

There are two distributions that are generally accepted –

  1. 20% of the customers are the ‘Best’ customers. They generate 80% of the revenue.
  2. 10% of the customers are the ‘Best’ customers. They generate 60% of the revenue. 30% of the customers are ‘Good’ customers. They generate 30% of the revenue.

In either case, it’s the Good and Best customers that matter. The remaining customers don’t really matter. Of course, woe to anyone who reminds them of it.

It’s a big assumption to make. However, the facts will bear this out. Facts that only Amazon and B&N have. Which makes B&N’s decision to shift to Reading Apps even stranger.

By ending Reading Tablets and eReaders, B&N would lose the Best Customers and the Good Customers

Firstly, it’s pretty safe to say that the Best customers and the Good customers will end up with a reading Tablet and/or a dedicated reading device (if they go with ebooks). If you’re the exception that proves the rule, you’re exactly that – an exception who reads 53 books a year on your Device X which is not focused on or optimized for reading.

If B&N leaves both spaces, then it leaves behind the 20% to 30% of customers that account for 80% to 90% of book sales.

What does that leave? The remaining huge numbers (70% to 80%). Wow – that’s a lot of users. The only problem – they contribute just 10% to 20% of book sales.

Please keep in mind that this is for ebooks. B&N isn’t walking away from the Best Customers and the Good Customers in Physical Books. However, it is making them Amazon customers (via eReaders and Reading Tablets) and making them likelier to shift.

B&N might be walking away from the core audience it needs to survive

If B&N were to analyze all the data it has on reading patterns and purchase patterns, it would find the following –

  1. 30% to 50% of its ebook sales come from eReader owners.
  2. 25% to 40% of its ebook Sales come from Nook Tablet owners.
  3. The rest of its ebook sales comes from other reading apps. This might be as low as 10% or as high as 45%.

It might also find that Nook and Nook Tablet owners account for as much as 25% to 35% of paper book sales from B&N stores.

I would be willing to bet serious money that B&N never took the step of analyzing this data, especially the ebook sales & paper book sales inter-relationship. For that matter, it never even properly tried to build a connection between ebook sales and physical book sales.

By walking away from dedicated eReaders and reading tablets (and this is still an IF, based on rumors and hearsay), B&N is giving up the customers that are accounting for 65% or more of its ebook sales and 25% or more of its paper book sales.

Those users aren’t going to switch back to 100% paper books. They are going to switch to other devices that are optimized for ebooks and reading. Those, rather inconveniently, happen to be from Amazon.

If B&N ends the Nook eReader line and the Nook Reading Tablet line, it would be handing over 50% or more of its Best Customers and its Good Customers (for ebook sales) to other companies, mostly Amazon. If B&N tries to replace dedicated Nook eReaders and Nook Reading Tablets with reading apps for iPad and Android devices and Windows 8 devices, it would be switching from the Best Customers and the Good Customers to the ‘Not so Dedicated’ Readers who account for just 10% to 20% of book sales.

It’s the absolute worst strategy decision B&N could make. We wouldn’t see Kindle vs Nook replaced by Kindle vs B&N Reading Apps, we would see it replaced by Kindle vs Kobo and by Kindle vs Don’t Read. There’s no room for B&N in eBooks if it doesn’t have both a reading focused eInk eReader and a reading focused Reading Tablet.