New York Times technology writer David Pogue had mocked the Nook’s “half-baked software” and called the device “an anesthetized slug.”
But Barnes & Noble has worked to improve the Nook and to offer different types, including a touch-screen version announced this week. The company promoted the Nook relentlessly through its superstores and now has around 25 percent of eReader sales, publishers say.
David Young, CEO of the Hachette Book Group, said the Nook’s success had “frankly astounded” him. Random House CEO Markus Dohle acknowledged he was initially “worried a bit” about the Nook, but praised Barnes & Noble for its “extraordinary accomplishment.”
Even the American Booksellers Association, the trade group representing independent sellers, was congratulating its longtime rival.
“They’ve married the physical location to the eBook device in a way that is profound,” says Len Vlahos, the association’s chief operating officer.
BookExpo America is a combination of trade show, seminar, soapbox, and family reunion, with agents, authors, booksellers, and publishers assembled under the Javits roof and in and out of the center’s erratic Wi-Fi service. The convention is also a testament to the endless and surprising variety of publishers, where a booth this week for the Lebanese Ministry of Culture stood across the aisle from a display of American Girl products.
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Among the “buzz” books were the novels “The Art of Fielding” by Chad Harbach and Erin Morgenstern’s “The Night Circus.” Buzz words included “petting zoo,” meaning an in-store selection of eBook devices that customers are allowed to handle; and “showroom,” the latest pitch for the value of a physical, “bricks-and-mortar” bookstore.
Google opened an eBook store in December, which Vlahos of the booksellers association praised as a valuable addition to the marketplace. Synonymous with internet searching, Google has positioned itself as a bridge between different kinds of devices and retailers, a peacemaker on the eBook battlefield.