'Big splash' needed for Nook, say publishers

'Big splash' needed for Nook, say publishers

Publishers and agents have welcomed confirmation of the Nook's imminent arrival in the UK, while warning that a well-backed launch for the device is crucial.

US retailer Barnes & Noble announced earlier today (20th August) that its e-reader would arrive in the UK in October, but is continuing to keep its choice of retail partners under wraps, saying only that they are "well-known” UK retailers.

Hachette head of digital George Walkley said the company was "looking forward very much" to the UK launch, saying the Nook had been "a popular and commercial success in the US market". Simon & Schuster executive director Kerr MacRae said: "Barnes & Noble is a major player in the e-book market and I really hope that its experience in the US doing digital and online in a physical world will add something to the market over here." Oneworld publisher Juliet Mabey said independent publishers would "especially welcome" the increase in competition represented by the Nook's arrival.

Agent Clare Alexander said: " I'd like as many partnerships as there can be. I'd just like an open playing field, and as much choice for the consumer as possible."

Little, Brown chief executive Ursula Mackenzie also welcomed the increase in competition but warned: "I think until we know how it is going to be sold, it's hard to know how much impact it will have. Kindle is very well-established and even Kobo has had a whole year now, and it's hard to know how many more people out there want to buy an e-reader.

"Quite a lot will depend on who Barnes & Noble partner with—and how much money they put behind it." Mackenzie added: "Clearly if they connect with someone known for selling books, then you arrive at that target market more easily."

Profile digital publishing director Michael Bhaskar said the Nook's arrival would "only help cement e-books as a vital segment of the market" but added: "The trick will be making a splash—half-hearted e-book launches get nowhere."