Barnes & Noble has vowed to fight for digital market share in the UK following a recent leap in content sales sparked by an aggressive price cut on the Nook Simple Touch.
Publishers have told The Bookseller content sales “took off overnight” when B&N slashed the price of its original e-reader from £69 to £29 last month. Blackwell’s reported device sales showed “no sign of slowing down” after retailers ran out of stock in the days following the promotion’s launch.
George Walkley, head of Hachette Digital, said: “The early indications are its recent price reduction on e-readers has had a positive impact on our e-book sales with them.”
However, he warned it was “too early to see the full impact of the promotion”.
Two other publishers, who preferred to speak anonymously, concurred that sales grew following the price cut. Blackwell’s head of buying Gareth Hardy said there had been a “dramatic rise” in interest in the product from schools and colleges, which had been inspired to embrace e-readers as a “low-cost solution to generate real excitement around reading”.
Speaking to The Bookseller, B&N’s m.d. Jim Hilt warned his rivals “we know how to compete.” He added: “The content market share will start to shift. It is far too early to say what the impact on market share is from this particular activity, but we are growing the number of people buying content, and what has been most exciting is that they are consuming a lot of it.”
Hilt continued: “We are six to seven months into this promotion and our job is to provide an exciting, meaningful alternative to what is available today, and focus on delivering that. We know how to compete—we have done it before—and we have made good progress with it in the US, so that is what we intend to do here.”
Hilt reaffirmed B&N’s intention to launch the Nook in 10 international markets outside the US within the next six months. “The thing we learnt in the UK is that it is important to have everything prepared,” he said.
B&N’s pledge came as Kobo announced a 145% year-on-year rise in e-reader sales in the first quarter of 2013, with the Kobo Aura HD accounting for more than 25% of devices sold at retail. The company also declared double-digit year-on-year growth across device and content sales in the first quarter, resulting in 98% revenue growth.