a modest proposal

Baldur Bjarnason weighs in on what Barnes & Noble should do. It’s not what you’d expect, which is not to say it’s wrong.

He proposes the company get out of the hardware (Nook tablet) business and even dump its own in-house ereading app.

So, my suggestion would be to scrap the reading app and just license someone else’s. Bluefire Reader is a decent, well-made app and seems to be the current safe bet. A slightly more off the wall bet would be to do some sort of deal with Readmill. Or, if B&N can talk publishers off the DRM ledge and onto the watermarking perch, they could just switch to using iBooks when on iOS and have a book delivery app that doesn’t do anything but notify people when new books are ready to be copied into iBooks. Going the watermarking route would also enable readers to just use their favourite app for everything.

He doesn’t emphasize it, but the big win here for B & N would be getting rid of DRM. As noted earlier, one of the things that stops readers like me from buying from B & N is fear that the company will go under and I will no longer have access to my books. Get rid of DRM and that issue goes away. If B & N led the pack on this, I would be willing to pay a small premium per book, and my loyalties would shift slightly, at least for a while.

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