Brianne Johnson

Barnes & Noble product relaunch

Case study for Barnes & Noble Brandcenter student project. Not for commercial use.

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the challenge

Prevent the untimely death of a failing e-reader.


The way we learn doesn’t yet reflect the way we live: always one foot in the physical world and one in the digital.


Nook isn’t a storytelling device—it’s a learning tool.

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Bookseller and educational retailer Barnes & Noble (B&N) launched its e-reader, Nook, in 2009—two years following the introduction of Amazon’s Kindle. It never caught up, and now Nook is near death: B&N closed its Nook app store—nullifying older devices—and as of 2017, the company claims only 2% of the e-reader market.

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Like what’s driving bookworms away from Nook? And what has the potential to drive B&N’s brand forward? To find out, we conducted a virtual focus group, listened in on social conversations, and mapped out B&N’s strengths and brand perceptions compared to both competing brands and storytelling devices.

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The stories don’t change, but the way we experience stories does.

Today’s readers are listeners, and they’re choosing downloadable audiobooks over once-popular tablets and e-readers—the ‘extra’ devices cluttering their lives. 

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look to B&N’s past for inspiration.

In its first days, B&N operated as a university bookstore. Today, B&N Education provides learning tools and resources to more than 6 million students, 84% of whom look to B&N as an authority in education.


For the first time, students can learn more from screens than textbooks. With game-based learning—which often uses tablets—students retain more and engage more.



Nook isn’t a storytelling device—it’s a learning tool.


Reinvent Nook as Lume, the trusted tablet for immersive learning.

INSPIRED BY A cultural truth:

The way we learn doesn’t yet reflect the way we live: always one foot in the physical world and one in the digital.



The Product

Developed in partnership with leading EdTech gaming companies and a national council of educators and parents, Lume is a fully functional tablet designed for students in grades 2-12. Lume curates a tested library of content, including curriculum-based games organized by grade level, for educators to tailor suites to their classrooms.

The Brand

Name: “Lume” captures the enlightening power of education via an illuminated device screen.

Positioning: For today’s explorers and tomorrow’s founders, Lume is the tool that makes lesson plans come to life.

Target Audiences

Educators who strive to keep up with a changing world and the needs of their students.

Parents who are wary of technology but believe in the potential it offers their children.

Young students who already live between the digital and physical worlds and long to learn in both.

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Mock-up to illustrate potential executions.

Mock-up to illustrate potential executions.

Establish B&N as a credible player in the game-based learning industry

by presenting at leading EdTech conferences and guiding attendees—industry influencers, developers and reporters—through the product interface.

Build buy-in with educators

by assigning B&N representatives to schools to provide ongoing guidance and implementation throughout the first year of use.

Build and maintain brand affinity

by sponsoring parent-teacher conferences, providing comfortable seating and catering to make an often stressful experience easier, and provide a space for kids to explore Lume during adult conversations.

ACTIVITIES: virtual focus group / SWOT analysis / social listening / competitor and category research / brand analysis / perceptual mapping

FELLOW BOOKWORMS: Anna Boutchard (Strategist) / Christopher Suarez (Strategist) / Halle Sinnott (Brand Manager)