How the Nook Could Win

Ok, maybe not win, but I’ve got an idea to make the Nook better.

Barnes and Noble has the unique competitive advantage of having a physical book store to parallel its ebook platform.

I really enjoy taking the time to read a book. I am not exactly the fastest of readers (I’d argue that to be my wife), but I do manage to squeeze a dozen or so books in a year. I’d love to read more. The problem for me is portability. Having an iPad now, I find myself reading eBooks a little bit more. In fact, it was decidedly the only way that I would read the Steve Jobs biography.

That being said, I much prefer my hardcopy books. For example, one of my favorites (for content and personal meaning) is Onward. Part of my problem though, is that it is riddled with great inscriptions. I get uneasy reading it or leaving it out for our toddler to destroy. In that case, I double-dip and bought the ebook as well.

Herein lies the rub.

Barnes and Noble could (and should) allow for digital downloads for hardcopy purchases through their retail stores. Yes, I would pay an extra $5 for the digital copy of a physical book if it were an option. It’s just hard to pay another $14.99 or more.

But how on earth would that work technologically, you say? Well, simply printing redemption codes in the books would be horribly inefficient, as then I could just walk in, type the code in to wherever and not buy either. Lame. In that model, you could shrink-wrap each book, but again, that’s looking at it with old-school eyes.

Ideally, it would print out on my receipt a unique URL for any downloads that are available. Or (gasp) a true link in my emailed receipt.

That’d be great for me as a consumer, but also for Barnes and Noble. Then, you have my email address (again), and another way to encourage me to buy more stuff.

Or, perhaps, make this a benefit of being a member. If I buy a book, use my membership card, then let it act as a 75% off coupon for a digital copy of any book I have physically purchased.

Sure, I guarantee that there would be people who take advantage of this and return the physical book to only get the digital copy, but that’s life. It’s part of doing business. Plus, you got a small amount of money from the heathens, which is more than you’d potentially get by not-doing it. By doing it, you help me read more, which means I buy more, and more importantly, I buy from you – with my membership – where you can mine that data and give me great suggestions as to what’s next.

So, what’s next?