It was just reported that Barnes & Noble fell short of market expectations, reporting a fourth-quarter loss of $57.7 million this week, despite getting a boost from some popular titles like “Hunger Games” and “Fifty Shades of Grey,” as well as the Borders liquidation.  Importantly, results for their closely watched Nook e-reader division were mixed. In April, Microsoft announced that it would invest hundreds of millions of dollars in Barnes & Noble’s Nook division, valuing the unit at $1.7 billion and giving Barnes & Noble a much-needed lift for its growing but expensive digital business. But, while a nice infusion of cash never hurts, it will only go so far, unless it’s directed toward creating consumer engagement with the brand.It turns out that Barnes & Noble fell short of consumer expectations, as well, which is what creates these market realities. As nascent as this category still is, consumers have a very clear idea at this point in time what they want from their device. Our research from the beginning of this year demonstrated the writing on the e-wall, as the brands that best met customer expectations in the category ranked as follows:

  1. Kindle
  2. Nook
  3. iPad
  4. PanDigital
  5. Sony
  6. Kobo

And while Barnes & Noble currently has more than 25 percent of the e-book market, it faces a formidable competitor in Amazon, which dominates e-book sales. Understanding the “why” behind the “what” of the e-reader category is far more than a numbers game–especially in these developing categories. When it comes to what e-reader brands have on their nightstand, this category story is one book they don’t want to be a mystery.