Barnes and Noble Cashes out of Ebooks

My friend Kevin posted a link about B&N leaving the ebook business. Here’s one of the most baffling statements I’ve seen in a while:

“Sales have been pretty minimal,” said Robert Leathern, director and senior analyst with Nielsen/NetRatings. He said, however, that the company does not track e-book sales formally.

If they don’t track sales formally, how is it that he has any statement to make about their magnitude? In other words “I’m making this up to suit whatever the point is that I’m making.” In some ways, I wonder if Gemstars and B&N leaving isn’t ultimately a net postive for the field. As a shakeout, getting the players out that aren’t actually committed and leaving the rest of the market to those who really do want to be in it. On the downside, it leaves the perception that the field is failing and leads to lots of the “ebooks are a failure” type articles of the type that started immediately after everyone got tired of writing the “ebooks will destroy paper publishing” articles. Meanwhile. I’m reading Poppy Brite’s Are You Loathsome Tonight on my Handspring and am tickled pink that I can.