In his keynote speech at PubWest's annual conference Barnes & Noble CEO Len Riggio said he remains optimistic about the future of bookselling and publishing, seeing the growth of digital as generating more readers and content. He noted that over the last holiday season when BN sold over one million Nooks print sales also went up. But the mix of what the company is selling is changing. Riggio said that while Nook owners spend 20 percent more overall on content they spend 20 percent less on print.
But, Riggio noted, publishers and booksellers must do a better job in helping customers find the content they want. Riggio said B&N is looking for new ways to better sell Nooks and other digital content in its store. More marketing dollars are coming to support e-books and e-readers from B&N and others, he said.
The explosion of content made available by technology means two things, Riggio said: people will buy more content, and they will need help to discover the content they want. He predicted that by the end of the decade the industry's overall e-book catalogue will have 10 million titles.
Despite the jump in digital content, B&N remains committed to bookstores, Riggio promised. Stores, he explained, still play a critical role in getting the conversation about books started and, with the retailer getting lower rents from landlords, the stores become more viable. "We'll adapt to whatever new world book buyers want," Riggio said. "We are not going to be shaken out."
If publishers want to remain relevant, Riggio thinks they should not hesitate to publish digital content in a wide range of styles and lengths. when the houses do publishing print books though, Riggio warned, their quality cannot be diminished. Publishers should view print books as "keepers" for their customers, he said.
PubWest is running from November 3-6 in Henderson, Nev.; look for expanded coverage of the event in the November 14 issue of PW.