William J. Lynch

For Barnes & Noble, the digital future is not what it used to be.

After a year spent signaling its commitment to build its business through its Nook division, Barnes & Noble on Thursday announced disappointing holiday sales figures, with steep declines that underscored the challenge it faces in transforming from its traditional retail format.

There's a lot of handwringing, such as this HuffPo piece, going on over the Bloomberg video where B&N CEO William J. Lynch cops to doing all of his reading on his Nook. The particular flavor of the angst is something like, that by going all digital, he's some sort of traitor to his own product, as if one can't be into books without being into print books.

The idea that this is somehow surprising strikes us as a little silly. Nobody is predicting a future where ebooks get less popular, after all.

—Brian Howard

PALO ALTO, Calif. A magazine display at a Barnes & Noble store. The company's C.E.O. says the idea that e-readers will make bookstores obsolete is nonsense. In March 2009, an eternity ago in Silicon Valley, a small team of engineers here was in a big hurry to rethink the future of books. Not the paper-and-ink books that have been around since the days of Gutenberg, the ones that the doomsayers proclaim with glee or dread will go the way of vinyl records. No, the engineers were instead fixated on the forces that are upending the way books are published,

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