Struggling bookseller Barnes & Noble claims reports of it getting out of the tablet market were misunderstood, and said it would continue to develop hardware in both the ebook reader and tablet sectors, despite tumbling earnings.

B&N Nook
Barnes & Noble says it will continue to develop Nook tablets and reports to the contrary were misunderstood. (Credit: Reuters)

The US company posted worse-than-expected earnings for the first fiscal quarter of 2014, with an $87m (£56m) loss, more than double the deficit reported this time last year.

In an earnings call after the results were published, B&N executives reiterated that the company would continue to make its own ebook readers, while looking for a third party to help with the manufacturing of its range of Nook Android tablets.

It stressed that the company was not getting out of the tablet market and planned to introduce further products.

Mike Huseby, CEO of Barnes & Noble's Nook Media joint venture with Microsoft, said: "When we discussed our fiscal year 2013 results the company announced plans to stay in the device business and continue to make black and white e-readers while exploring a partnership model for manufacturing colour tablets.


"Unfortunately, many people interpreted these comments incorrectly and concluded that we were getting out of the device business. I'd like to be very clear about this today: the company intends to continue to design and develop innovative Nook black and white and colour devices.

"At least one Nook device will be released for the coming holiday and further products are in development."

Huseby accepted that Barnes & Noble had failed to accurately estimate demand for the most recent generation of Nook tablets and ebook readers. Sales were down 23.1% year-on-year and the company admitted that a recent round of firesales, which saw substantial price cuts across the Nook range, was carried out to clear an overflowing inventory.

"The problem is that decisions that were made by management in terms of the demand forecast were based on what was thought to be good information.

"If we want to be in the content business, we need to be in the device business, no matter how they're produced. We think our people can produce better devices than anyone else."

Although both the 7in Nook HD and 9in Nook HD+ offer high-resolution screens with good hardware and an interesting take on Android's operating system - complete with multiple user accounts - both tablets were hampered at their September 2012 launch for not having access to the Google Play store.

Instead, only a small range of Android applications were available through B&N's own store, along with books, newspapers and magazines. It was not until eight months later, in May 2013, that Google Play and other services finally came to the Nook tablets.