First UK Nook Christmas could see digital 'step change'

First UK Nook Christmas could see digital 'step change'

Analysts have predicted that this Christmas could herald a "real step change" for e-books as new devices and digital partnerships boost the market significantly.

On Monday (20th August) Barnes & Noble confirmed that its Nook device will arrive in the UK in mid-October. The US retailer revealed its new website, nook.co.uk, and promised to announce prices and retail partners in the coming weeks.

The autumn will also see Waterstones beginning to sell the Kindle, while Kobo is expected to put a new device into the market and for the first time independent booksellers will be able to partner with Kobo and Anobii to sell digital books. Google launched its 8gb Nexus 7 tablet last month. A UK launch for the Kindle Fire is another hope, though unconfirmed.

Douglas McCabe of Enders Analysis said: "Clearly if we thought this [past] year was a big digital Christmas, we have not understood the capacity in the market yet. This year could really step-change the market share for e-books come January and February 2013 after all these new devices are released."

Publishers and analysts have warned that the success of the Nook in the UK depends on the strength and number of its retail partnerships, with Tesco, John Lewis, Carphone Warehouse and Foyles have all been posited as possible retail partners for the Nook.

 
Foyles c.e.o. Sam Husain confirmed to The Bookseller that he has been in talks with B&N, but emphasised it was "not to the exclusion of anyone else". He said: "On the face of it, Nook would seem to be a good fit for Foyles. As with anybody, though, we would have to make sure terms are compatible."

McCabe said: "If B&N is coming from behind, they need to get very good deals in retail in order to have a chance to get double-digit market share, so a supermarket would be fantastic for them. Kindle is such a huge mass-market product and has got to a lot of people very quickly, so Nook has a challenge ahead of it to win market share." He also added that the company would have to be "competitive on price" to stand a chance.

David Miller, agent at Rogers, Coleridge & White, said: "As one shop shuts, a digital retailer opens. I’ve not yet held a Nook but I’m told the experience is terrific—and the more outlets there are for buying e-books, the more e-books will be sold—which might just encourage publishers to escalate the e-book royalties they currently pay their authors."
 
Karolina Sutton, agent at Curtis Brown, added that the device would "definitely" need a high street presence to make an impact. "It would be great to see a real diversification in the market, and have a good, healthy challenger to the Kindle," she said.