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Barnes & Noble jumps into print-on-demand

12 November 2014

From Geekwire:

In a move to pick up more self-publishing clients, Barnes & Noble has launched Nook Press Print, a new print-on-demand service for independent authors looking to take their manuscripts into the physical world.

Users can pick from a variety of materials and formats, including hardcover and softcover books, in a number of different sizes. Authors can get their texts published in full color or black and white, and select different paper materials.

. . . .

It’s a move to attract people to Barnes & Noble’s publishing platforms at a time when the bookstore chain is feeling increasingly challenged by Amazon. The company plans to break off the Nook division into a separate company, and is now outsourcing the production of its latest tablet to Samsung.

Amazon already offers print-on-demand services through two of its subsidiaries: Booksurge and CreateSpace, which offer similar options to those offered by Nook Press Print. The Seattle-based retailer’s existing ecosystem of self-published authors is a lucrative business for the company: there have been a number of hit books which started as self-published titles on Amazon, like “The Martian,” which exploded in popularity and was recently got picked up for a film deal.

Link to the rest at Geekwire and thanks to Shelton for the tip.

Here’s the link to Barnes & Noble’s announcement

If PG were running Nook, he would have spent money on major improvements to the website instead of POD. Being able to list and sell POD books on the Nook website won’t do much good if potential readers can’t find them.

[Update] You can’t list and sell your POD books on the Nook website. You’ll have to go to another POD service if you want to do that.

Then there are the add-on packages that begin at $999 and immediately caused PG to think of Author Solutions.


71 Comments to “Barnes & Noble jumps into print-on-demand”

  1. Totally agree with you, PG. So many other things I’d rather have had from Nook Press, such as preorder capability for indie authors?!?!

    • Both Kobo and Nook are so far behind Amazon in practically every conceivable way, it’s disheartening that it seems like they have absolutely no idea why and are putting their energy into things like this, as opposed to just making the digital portion of Nook Press better…

    • Even an ‘also bought’ list would be nice. :/

  2. So does this mean that Barnes and Noble will put these POD indie books on their shelves? I guess not.

    • Nope. From the Nook Press FAQ:

      “The NOOK Press print platform program is for you to print books for your personal use, and does not include selling those books through Barnes & Noble stores or BN.com. You may sell the books you print on your own, however.”

      • So basically they are offering a lame form of vanity publishing that is not distributed anywhere. Wow. That is not how to compete. Do they even realize that Createspace does so much more than that?

        So this does not get your books into any stores…not even their own online store. As someone else asked, are they trying to disrupt Kinko’s business model? How does this help a self-published author? Not at all as far as I can tell. If I just want some physical copies on hand, I can get them through Createspace or Lightning Source and then also have my book available in online stores….including on B&N.com. So they will sell a competitor’s POD books on their own site, but not books produced by their own POD service. What is that all about?

        • This was my thought when I received the email and clicked through.

          I recognize that companies are capable of making excruciatingly bad marketing decisions, but…damn. I have no idea what B&N is thinking here.

          • My guess is that someone there actually has enough of a clue to get this started, but not enough clout to actually make it work. It’s been set up to fail so that the entrenched interests can point at it and say “See? See? It didn’t work.”

            • My guess is that they think there is more money in selling POD services to authors than selling POD books to readers.

              • @ Josh

                Golly! What business model does this remind me of? Lemme think real hard here.

                OK, thinking… I keep seeing “ASI” flashing in my mind’s eye.

                (Also gotta wonder if ASI is B&N’s vendor for POD services.)

              • My guess is that they think there is more money in selling POD services to authors than selling POD books to readers.


            • @ Tony

              What a cruel comment! You are being so mean to B&N management. Even if you’re probably right on the mark.

      • You have to wonder why they were bothered with POD in the first place then…

      • I find it funny that I need to go through Amazon’s Createspace to print my books so that it can be listed on B&N’s website for sale. Doesn’t B&N see anything wrong with that?

      • B & N’s got a steady eye on the future.

        When 2005 arrives, they’ll be ready.

      • You may sell the books you print on your own, however.”

        Well, isn’t that big of them? Such a generous offer. I’m, like, whelmed…

      • When I first read the story, I thought they were actually competing for independents. Wrong.

    • Excellent question, Temple. And I second your answer.

      Edit to add: Got B&N’s e-mail this morning. Not impressed. And now they make you go through an extra layer of clicks to get to your dashboard. Are they going out of their way to see how bad they can make themselves look compared to Amazon? /*sarcasm*/

  3. I can’t help but view this as a cynical bid to prop up their brick and mortar stores, because they’ve never really given two figs about promoting indie success before. When I got their email I immediately viewed it askance and wondered what the angle was.

    If they’re honest about it and they’re trying to produce a Createspace competitor, I’m all for that… I’d like someone to light a fire under Createspace which, while often fantastic, could use some worry over other companies to get some more innovation going (for instance: I am super tired of them not offering a POD hardcover option). But I don’t know that I think B&N is making that attempt.

    I’d be interested to hear if anyone’s tried it/looked through the options/figured out how well it works/what the terms are/etc.

    • I was excited when I saw the hardcover option. Less so after finding out there was no distribution.

      • I thought the hardcover option was neat too until I saw there was no distribution either.

      • Createspace offers a hardcover option but won’t distribute it, which is deeply irritating. I wish I knew why they were balking at that.

      • If there’s no distribution, then why bother? The advantages of using B&N’s POD service is nill, because I can already get that through CreateSpace and Ingram.

        Why on earth, when I have those options, would I order a bunch of books to stick in my garage?

        Sounds to me like B&N hasn’t thought this through.

        Or they’re gearing up for some exclusive set up, wherein if you haven’t printed your book with B&N you won’t EVER be able to sell on their online site. (Never mind that you can’t find it now….) They’ll kick CS off and sell only B&N Printed books.

        (Says Christina, who is full of doom and gloom on account of the icy cold weather.)

  4. Over at the Digital Reader Blog, Nate thinks it is Author Solutions based (they’ve always been tight with Penguin) and that what they’re doing is adding checklist features to Nook to make it seem more than a failed ebookstore to an unwary buyer.

    Which right there says something about who they’re looking to flip it go.


    • Wow! Flipping Nook to Author Solutions? What a dripping slimy idea to consider. Gross!

      • Author solutions is part of the Randy Penguin so I don’t think the lesser four would put up with that.

        I’m thinking they’ve found no takers and are going to split and IPO Nook as a penny stock. 😉

        “It’s a one-stop publishing services company for Indies! Great margins! The next boom stock. As good an investment as buying dinars.”

  5. What would have been smart is if they had offered to sell your physical books on consignment at your local B&N store for a cut of the consignment sales. (Although as fast as B&N is going down the tubes, they could probably use the local traffic from friends of the local author.)

    But yeah, this is a great idea if the year was 1993.

  6. David Gaughran has a better take on it, quoting The Digital Reader saying it’s closer to Author Solutions than a competitor to CreateSpace. (Nod to Felix above for catching this first).

    The only reason I would try it is to get a hardback copy of my books. I checked their prices by getting a quote for a book I had recently published (300 pages, TPB, cream pages, b/w interiors). Theirs was $2 plus shipping more than what I get from CS. A hardcover version would cost me $12 plus shipping. (I haven’t compared it with, say, Lulu, so I don’t know how good a price it is).

    Their self-publishing service might not be too bad, asking for a couple grand to handle production from editing to ebook coding, but I do most everything myself. I’d rather hire an editor whose work I’m familiar with than this service.

    Gaughran concludes with a slap on the bum of Baroness Gail Rebuck, the chair of Randy Penguin UK, which gotta sting.

    • Note that the packages don’t include proper editing, only the $399 editorial assessment, which will then recommend their crazily priced actual edits (line editing, dev editing etc.) depending on what you need… or what their balance sheet needs.

      • Thanks for the insight, David.

      • Bwahahaha… Only $399 for an “editorial assessment” to upsell you to even more expensive packages.

        Actually, on second thought, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. The sad thing is that it’s guaranteed that there will be poor naive wannabe authors out there who will swallow the entire hook, line, and sinker, emptying their wallets for nada.

        Hey, what’s a minimal modicum of ethics when there’s money to be made, eh?

        • It’s like the “brake and muffler” evaluations that Midas used to do. There would *always* be something wrong with your brakes, or your muffler.

  7. “…So they will sell a competitor’s POD books on their own site, but not books produced by their own POD service. What is that all about?”

    WOAH! Nice catch, Nirmala. Well-summarized.

    The only good thing I can say for this is that they’ve produced a pretty nifty free guide-cum-checklist with cover templates for producing a POD paperback, which I intend to use now in polishing the PDF for Book 4 of my pennamed Late Roman espionage series’ CreateSpace edition. (Just like I use the Smashwords Style Guide to produce a clean e-book for Kindle.)

    Thanks for the free production tool, Nookies!

  8. Thanks for the links, Felix and Bill. Nate and David’s conversation about this being a Wall Street move makes more sense than anything I was thinking this morning. Definitely need some caffeine. 🙂

  9. It is, as any lawyer will tell you, always good to look at the fine print. This PoD will NOT get you into their webstore OR their physical store. From their own FAQ (https://print.nookpress.com/publishing-help/general):

    If I print a self-published book, will Barnes & Noble sell it in the store?

    No. The NOOK Press print platform program is for you to print books for your personal use, and does not include selling those books through Barnes & Noble stores or BN.com. You may sell the books you print on your own, however.


    As someone has mentioned, David Gaughran was on this in his blog. This appears to be a totally useless but expensive service at best and a rip off hoping people won’t bother to look at the details at worst.

    • How does shipping compare to Createspace? Their shipping costs to Canada are insane for small orders, particularly when you consider you’ll probably get hit with ‘tax collection’ fees from the courier that are much larger than the tax they’re collecting.

      If their shipping is sane and goes through Canada Post instead, it could easily be cheaper than Createspace if you only want to buy a few books.

      But, yeah, the whole thing does have a Vanity Publisher smell about it.

      • The shipping cost is the reason why I buy print copies for signing through Amazon here in Germany. It’s faster, and I get my “royalties”, so I don’t lose a lot of money doing it that way.

        I wish, I really wish CreateSpace would use the local printers Amazon uses for CS author copies. I suppose they haven’t quite realized just yet that there is a large world full of authors outside the US that even has printers.

    • Well that just made it completely useless. Way to go B&N.

  10. > Totally Useless

    B&N should just go ahead and make this the official NookPress slogan.

    My print books are already on sale at B&N.com, via CreateSpace. Where is the benefit for the author in this new program? Gee, I really need a few cartons of books to fill up the extra space in my garage. Thanks, NookPress!

    Apparently they believe we indies are just a bunch of rubes ripe for the fleecing. Insulting the intelligence of your target market is no way to run a company — but it’s a great way to run a company into the ground.

  11. I am a total skeptic as to this move by B&N. Days late and dollars short (though they plan to get those back selling vanity author-services packages).

    I found myself wondering who would actually do the printing and binding work for B&N.

    I know they have their own public domain book publishing imprint and am not sure if they print and bind themselves or not (though I would have assumed it likely they contract the work to third parties–until now.)

    Keep in mind, they are in 2 new businesses: 1. simply printing and binding for hire, starting with your .pdf. and 2. The pure vanity press/author-services part of the operation with packages from $999 up and up and up.

    On the former, I priced a 200-page trade paperback, 6X9, 200 copies at $4 each from B&N. I don’t know if the price would hold (and it doesn’t include delivery), but that’s about what a good short-run printer charges in my vicinity. (Gorham Press, in Centralia Washington, whom I highly recommend.) So, that’s one small data point that’s to their credit, at least provisionally.

    Overall, I just don’t get this and don’t plan to make use of it… and I found there FAQ’s mixing “personal” uses with “self-publishing” uses (but not through the B&N online store) both confusing and a bit disingenuous.

  12. “If PG were running Nook, he would have spent money on major improvements to the website instead of POD. Being able to list and sell POD books on the Nook website won’t do much good if potential readers can’t find them.”

    Yes. This. Absolutely. First thing that ran through my mind when I read the post headline.

  13. No distribution. Not even to their own stores. Not even barnesandnoble.com.

    This is a joke, right?

    All they’re doing is putting lipstick on the pig.

    And making a cynical attempt to cash in on the naivete of uninformed newbie authors in the process.

    Any indie who wants a hardcover can do it through LightningSource. As well as trade paperbacks and mass-market paperbacks. You can do this in addition to CreateSpace versions of the same books. And Ingram *will* distribute your LightningSource books — returnable and industry-standard discounted — so that any bookstore can order them and shelve them just like a Big-Five title. Including Barnes & Noble stores.

    I have my LightningSource-printed, Ingram-distributed books selling on the shelves of Barnes & Noble stores, indy book stores, local stores, etc. And when those stores sell their last one, they automatically re-order more. (Returns is a big problem, granted, at 25% or so… but a B&N store manager assured me that was actually a “good” return rate — she told me that for James Patterson, returns run around 50%).

    This new B&N service is not any kind of competition at all for LightningSource, let alone CreateSpace.

    If they won’t distribute or shelve their own books in their own stores or even list them in the barnesandnoble.com online store — something they’ll do for CreateSpace titles — then I just don’t see how a 2003-style B&N-branded vanity press offering brings anything to the table for writers.


  14. I’m not willing to be so hard on them until I have all the facts. Like for example, if the thousand dollar add on package includes cleaning out my garage and a month’s worth of picking up dog poop, it could still be a good value.

  15. Darn, I was kind of interested in the hardback option when scanning the email last night.

    Thought “I can do 3in1s, use them as give away prizes and stuff. Less expensive than going through LS or wherever.”

    Now I see all these comments, and I haz a sad. 🙁

    • If you want hardbacks for giveaways (and not as a distribution option to retailers), Createspace does have a one-off “get some number of hardbacks printed” option. It’s just a “you get a set number printed and mailed to you” option, which makes it of limited use.

  16. BN ran out of feet of its own to shoot. Now it’s looking for folks who’ll (perhaps unwittingly) pay for the privilege of a bullet to the metatarsals.

  17. In breaking news, B&N is planning to market bicycles to fish.

  18. [Update] You can’t list and sell your POD books on the Nook website. You’ll have to go to CreateSpace if you want to do that.

    :: breaks up laughing ::

  19. Given Mike Shatzkin is never mentioned without the sobriquet ‘veteran publishing consultant’, then it seems only fair that Barnes & Noble should have their usual tag of ‘circling the drain’.

  20. Smart Debut Author

    I’m sorry, my good man, but I refuse to get in that “lifeboat.” It appears crowded and dirty, and worst of all, there is no clearly designated First Class section.

    I’ll stay right here in my lounge chair, and order another martini. This iceberg silliness is beneath me.

  21. The notice they sent me stressed the usefulness of this service for people who want to have a printed copy of some family memoir or personal piece of writing for their families and friends. That’s probably why they don’t offer to distribute this.

    Vanity Press.

  22. The truth is: Time machines exist. And sadly, the leadership at B&N is from seven years in the past.
    It’s funny, they have their own press, but instead of adding links for the paperback books they can create, they’d rather just link up to Createspace ones.
    Really? Creating a link for your own paperbacks and syncing it to the existing Nook Press Ebook page is that difficult?

    As Leif said over at the Kboards>Writers’ Cafe, “They almost did something.”

  23. Yet another lame attempt to be relevant in the new world of publishing. Yawn. Vanity publishing is the new innovation.

    I agree with PG, if B & N wanted to spend some cash, they should get that blasted web site up to speed and at least look like they want to compete with Amazon.

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