Where now for Nook’s global ambition? Apps and Windows

UK bookseller Waterstones’ announcement it will retail Amazon’s Kindle e-reader looks like a blow for Barnes & Noble.

Waterstones lacks an e-reader strategy, and Barnes & Noble’s Nook device had appeared a candidate to fill the gap. Another big UK retailer, WH Smith, has thrown its lot in with Nook rival Kobo.

Now Nook may need to advance internationally with apps on hardware other than its own, and with Microsoft, rather than local high street retailers, as its key partner…

Speaking to me after our panel interview at paidContent 2012, Barnes & Noble’s digital newsstand and emerging content GM Jonathan Shar said:

“We’re excited to look at those (international) opportunities. The recent Microsoft announcement and the formation of NewCo allows us to think even more globally, as Windows 8 is a global platform.

“As we develop Nook experiences and reading apps for Windows 8, we’ve got to think beyond the U.S. and think globally.

“We’re looking at all our options. We think the value proposition we’ve built with the Nook brand translates outside of the U.S. and will look across that.

“In the U.S., we have both the Nook devices but also great Nook reading apps across multiple platforms. We’re looking at that strategy outside the U.S. – what the mix will be is to be determined.

“We’re evaluating the international market in many markets. We anticipate that there will be competition in these markets. We’re prepared for all that.”

Putting Nook in to a new business co-owned by Microsoft will allow Barnes & Noble to deliver Nook apps and services on new Windows 8 tablets.

A solely apps-and-services strategy may be a useful fallback strategy for Barnes & Noble overseas. But it’s not the same as selling the Nook e-reader, the Trojan Horse for those services, as well.

Now Amazon’s Waterstones deal means Barnes & Nobile has lost to its biggest rival the opportunity to sell that device through the UK’s biggest bookseller.