Thursday, April 08, 2010

Nooks go to Best Buy, Kindles to Target

Over the last couple of days, Engadget has reported that Target is going to begin carrying Amazon's Kindle (via a listing in Target's internal inventory control system), and now quantities of Barnes & Noble's nook have been spotted in a Best Buy, with a launch date (confirmed via a listing in Best Buy's inventory system) of April 18th. There are two ways to look at these developments:
  • The "glass half-full" view is that distributing their eBook readers through alternate channels will expand the overall market
  • The "glass half-empty" view is that they're not selling enough readers through their existing channels, and need to sell through big-box retailers in order to get more volume
I'm leaning toward "glass half-empty". Amazon and Barnes & Noble will both make far more money selling their respective readers themselves than by selling them through big-box retailers. Neither Target nor Best Buy are known for being easy negotiators with their vendors, so they're going to make a decent margin on the readers that they sell.

My suspicion is that sales of the eBook readers have plateaued at both companies, and they see wider retail distribution as the only way to keep sales growing. It'll be very interesting to see if these moves spur big growth in eBook reader sales, or if they simply spread the same sales over more outlets.
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