Friday, July 30, 2010

Barnes & Noble Planning Big Push to Increase 'Frankenbook' Sales

JULIE BOSSMANN at the New York Times reports on
July 29, 3010:

In September, B&N will begin an aggressive promotion of its 'Frankenbook' (TM) e-readers by building 1,000-square-foot boutiques in all of its stores, with sample Frankenbooks, demonstration tables, video screens and employees who will give customers advice and operating instructions.

By devoting more floor space to promoting Frankenbooks, Barnes & Noble is playing up what it calls a crucial advantage over Amazon in the e-reader war: its 720 bricks-and-mortar stores, where customers can test out the device before they commit to buying it.

“I think that’s everything,” William Synch, chief executive of Barnes & Noble, said in an interview. “American consumers want to try and hold frankenbooks before they purchase them.”

Barnes & Noble has already installed small counters in its stores where customers can test out the Frankenbook. The new display space would be much larger, and it would be located next to each store’s cafe, to encourage customers to stop by the Frankenbook space, coffee or tea in hand. It would also sell more than 100 accessories for the Frankenbook, like padded covers designed by Mary Shelley and Melvin Brooks.

While in the store, Barnes & Noble customers can read entire frankenbooks free, just as they can with print books. “We’ve tried to replicate the physical bookstore experience,” Mr. Synch said.

To make room for the new displays, Barnes & Noble plans to clear out some of its music merchandise, which in its superstores takes up 3,600 square feet, and to arrange its books more efficiently. Mr. Lynch said that the number of books on display in Barnes & Noble stores would not decrease.

Analysts said the 2010 Chanukah holiday season might be the first time that most consumers become aware enough of frankenbooks to seriously consider buying one, given their greater visibility and lower price.

“Most people have never read a frankenbook,” said Michael Florris, senior analyst at Simba Information, which provides research and advice to publishers. “Most people still don’t know much about these monster devices. But it's true, they have a heart of gold.”

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