Saturday, December 18, 2010

Observations while shopping

I did a bit of shopping in the last week (yea... who hasn't) and I had a few observations:

1. Barnes and Noble: Packed front of the store. The coffee shop was happening. Plenty of moms and daughters in the toy section actually buying toys (no boys...). There was quite the line up to talk to the in-store tech support on the Nook. (Judging from the overheard questions, this should be taken as nook success in selling to less tech literate than an issue with the nook.) The CD/DVD section was a ghost town; not one customer. Book sales were ok, but *far* less than prior years.

2. Best Buy. They were not pushing the Kindle. In fact, the sales people were avoiding talking it with customers. Apple sales were brisk (including an Ipad to yours truly for the misses) and for laptops. In my opinion, the mini 'store within a store' for Apple was working at Best Buy. TVs were moving. But the media section (CD/DVD) was barren of customers. Video game consoles were sitting in large untouched piles. Seriously, I must have watched $8k of Apple products moved, $3k to $4k of laptops, Similar sales of TVs, and not seen one video game sale or CD/DVD sale.

3. Target: Mad house. I have no idea if there were Kindles as with two kids in tow, we had to attend to business.

4. Costco and Sams Club: Interesting... due to 'negotiations with Apple,' all Apple products were pulled from Costco! Photos, TVs, and Kids toys were moving. But books were 'reduced in floor space' from November in both chain stores. A dramatic reduction in book shelf space.

What does this have to do with e-books? From what I can see, only a few hot items are selling. Retailers are definitely cutting back book shelf space which is not going to help p-books. In fact, shelf space is gravitating towards higher margin items.

I cannot state definitively how these anecdotal observations will impact p-book sales, but it is a headwind trend. More electronic devices to read ebooks is the positive trend. The negative trend is less retail attention to books. This all points to a transition year in 2011 for books. r.



  1. My experiences this weekend were similar, with a few differences:

    - The XBOX 360 with Kinect is selling like crazy, but the Sony Playstations and Wii are collecting dust. Target had a $100 gift card promotion on Playstations and Wii.

    - Kindles were at Target, but sold out at the two stores I visited.

    - Barnes & Noble absolutely packed with hour-long lines to buy and lots of p-books selling, but strong interest at the NOOK counter.

    - Borders, not quite as packed as B&N, all p-books.

    - Didn't even try to go into Best Buy - couldn't find a parking spot!

    - The Microsoft Store was crazy busy, as much as the Apple Store. The XBOX 360 with Kinect was hot, and Kindles were prominently displayed.

    Of five or so folks I have discussed gifts with, all were planning on buying a Kindle and/or an iPad this season.

  2. J Viser,

    Thank you for the added inputs!

    I saw every game console gaining dust...

    I would be curious how cell phones were doing. It does seem like everyone is buying a Kindle/Ipad/Nook/Laptop for Christmas. I also happen to be in a Kindle/IPad crowd, but e-mailing a budy in a different area, it is Nooks & Notebooks. So there does seem to be a 'cluster effect.'


  3. Neil,

    I'm dropping in to answer your question on JK's page because I couldn't find an email for you. You can get THE END OF MARKING TIME free by emailing me at: authors(at) 22wb dot com.

    You can share it with anyone you like.


  4. Interesting. I heard a rumor in tech news that Amazon may have sold 8 million kindles. I have no idea where the data comes from. Have you heard anything about this?