Barnes & Noble announced via a press release today that sales of its Nook lineup, including the new Nook Tablet, the older Nook Color, and the Nook Simple Touch E-Ink e-reader, were up 70 percent over last year due in part to strong performance by the Nook Tablet. Sales of the Nook Simple Touch were lower than expected, however, which Barnes & Noble attributes to a "customer preference for color devices."  

Because of this generally strong performance, the company is considering spinning the Nook unit off into a separate business. If it happens, Barnes & Noble cautions that such a move would only come after an evaluation process of indeterminate length. Whether it's separated or not, B&N expects its Nook business to continue growing year-over-year both in the United States and abroad. While all of these sales numbers look good for Barnes & Noble, neither they nor Amazon (nor other e-reader outfits, like Canadian company Kobo) release hard sales figures for any of their devices, making it difficult to see how their sales stack up to one another.

The Nook Tablet, which includes a 1GHz dual-core TI OMAP 4430 SoC and 1GB of RAM, sells for $249 and competes primarily with Amazon's Kindle Fire and other inexpensive 7" Android-powered tablets. 

Source: Barnes & Noble

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  • chizow - Thursday, January 5, 2012 - link

    Seems to me the Nook is one of the few things keeping B&N relevant while allowing them to avoid the fate of other B&M book stores like Borders. Its also the only thing that will allow them to keep the likes of Amazon at bay with their Kindle.

    Saw in a recent tablet article that hardware makers understand its not all about the hardware, its about the content and right now B&N keeping Nook under their roof makes the most sense as they have access to both the hardware and content.

    I'm actually really surprised the Nook has done so well, all the buzz in the last few months has been about the Kindle and particularly the Fire. The worst thing B&N could do to kill off that momentum and accrued goodwill would be to spin-off the Nook into a separate business.....
  • MonkeyPaw - Thursday, January 5, 2012 - link

    Separating it might save it from death if B&N can't sustain B&M stores and has to file Chapter 11. It would allow them to shave off one portion of the company (the part that may not survive long term anyway) and develop a new future in eBooks, readers, and distribution. Maybe long-term B&N can turn its store front into more of a convenience/related goods store, and offer discounts to eBooks that are purchased in-store to keep people coming in.
  • seamonkey79 - Thursday, January 5, 2012 - link

    In other words, it gives B&N a potentially easier method to because the Amazon they've wanted to become since Amazon became... They have a successful, money making business. Take that, make it solo, declare bankruptcy on the B&M stores, take the funds that you now no longer have to send to creditors and use that to completely redesign your business model based on the e-sale model with a hardware business on the side. They get to sell off all their buildings, keep nearly all of their then-current stock of books and other items, lay off almost all of their employees since the B&M stores go away, and they and investors walk away with a hefty chunk of change for little to no effort, and if they're lucky and don't cause too much consumer hate and discontent (and somewhat if consumers are lucky too!), we end up with a large enough online competitor to Amazon to keep them in check for years to come.
  • Southernsharky - Thursday, January 5, 2012 - link

    Spinning it off makes sense for the stock holders, assuming they are planning on bankruptcy for the main company.
  • Wolfpup - Thursday, January 5, 2012 - link

    So B&N's DRM is basically password based rather than activation-effectively the same thing on the actual Nook 2, but what's neat is you can actually open Nook books in third party programs, with no phoning home to the mothership. Makes me feel better about buying from Barnes & Noble.

    My problem is, I don't like the actual Nook 2 very much. I hate touch screens, and the physical buttons on it are awful. I hate Amazon's activation, and I'm not so sure about the company, but the actual Kindle eInk hardware is fairly awesome.
  • Reflex - Thursday, January 5, 2012 - link

    ...but if you read the full statement they blame part of their shortfall for the year on the Nook, which has NOT recouped the development investment. That implies that despite the sales performance its losing them money they cannot afford to lose.

    Their sales at this point are about 1/5th to 1/6th Amazon's sales of the Fire. The Nook is a doomed business in its current incarnation, and by spinning it off they could get it capitalized by independent investors not willing to take such a risk with B&N as a whole.
  • Caesius - Saturday, January 7, 2012 - link

    -=That implies that despite the sales performance its losing them money they cannot afford to lose.=-

    Which explains (but does not excuse, IMO) their blocking the sideloading of apps with the latest update. Despite the anger on the user end, this ensures that all the usual revenue from apps, ebooks, etc. will go to B&N. The apps sideloaded before the update remain, but cannot be updated.

    When this happened I was furious. I still am, actually. It is like buying a green car (so now it is your car, right?), and then you take out the stock radio and paint it red. And you take the car to the dealership for the annual checkup, only to find that when you arrive to pick it up, they've painted it green again, and they not only put the stock radio back in, but did so in such a way as to prevent you from ever putting the one you want back in. And no, I did not lease this Nook Tablet. And I certainly didn't realize there might be some dispute over who owns the title.

    I don't mind changes to the device. They can do whatever they like to it... just not after I purchased it. They made a radical change, by removing the functionality that won me over in the first place. To do this *after* I purchased the device is infuriating.
    It is as if B&N feels *they* own *my* Nook, even though I spent a VERY hard-earned $250.00.

    The one thing non-owners might not realize upon reading my above comment: The software update came arrived via wifi *without* warning. I turned it on and it said "update in progress."
  • dcollins - Thursday, January 5, 2012 - link

    I got a Nook Tablet for Christmas and I love it. It's great for reading, especially the AWESOME wired magazine/app. Streaming Netflix and Hulu work flawlessly. The screen is excellent and touch works fairly well.

    I'll be rooting it fairly soon, once that process matures for a while. All in all, it's a great tablet and at $250, it's a bargain compared to other Android tablets (once rooted).
  • kmmatney - Thursday, January 5, 2012 - link

    I owned a Nook for about 4 weeks (having modded it with CM7) to try out. i had previously played with an iPad, and hoped the Nook would serve me well at a much lower price (bought refurbed for $189). Overall the Nook just fell short of my expectations. The screen was nice, but too small, and I felt it was way under-powered. The good thing that modding it increased it's value, so I sold the Nook for more than i paid for it. I bought an iPad2, and thing the overall experience is well worth the extra cost.
  • OCedHrt - Friday, January 6, 2012 - link

    That just means you weren't looking for an eReader to begin with.

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