Let’s boil down Barnes & Noble’s (BKS) Nook nightmare into a handy juxtaposition concerning the price of the digital version of Donna Tartt’s gripping new novel, The Goldfinch.
Barnes & Noble’s Nook price: $14.99.
There are plenty of reasons for the stunning decline of the once-promising Nook. Barnes & Noble has found itself unable to compete with the likes of Apple (AAPL) and Amazon in the broader arena of multipurposed tablets. The New York-based retailer has also been undermined by the continuing migration of its customers from physical stores to online book-buying and by the desire of its risk-averse institutional shareholders to support deep, profit-draining, long-term investments in new frontiers.
Even that doesn’t completely account for the dramatic upending of its Nook business. Barnes & Noble today reported gruesome numbers—a 60 percent drop in its digital division, to $125 million, from its sales in last year’s holiday period. (Sales in its physical stores fell 6.6 percent from the previous year.)