Why NOT self-publish exclusively through Amazon?

20 September 2014

From TeleRead:

Essentially, Amazon provides a number of added benefits and incentives to writers who publish exclusively via Amazon either temporarily or continually: free giveaway days, or inclusion in e-book subscription services such as the Kindle Owners Lending Library or Kindle Unlimited that pay a fee per checkout, for example. Amazon has allowed some top-selling authors, including Howey, to try the service out temporarily withoutgoing exclusive to see how the numbers stack up.

After a couple of months, Howey reports that the readership gains he’s seen from Kindle Unlimited “more than covered the readership I gain from the iBookstore, Nook, and Kobo combined.” He might be earning slightly less money, he writes, but gets considerably more fans out of it.

. . . .

I’d love to see some decent competitors to Amazon spring up, but at the moment, nobody really seems to be even trying to compete. Apple locks its books into one specific platform—and what’s more, it even requires writers to use that platform only if they want to upload their books directly rather than via an intermediary!

. . . .

Sony’s thrown in the towel. Barnes & Noble’s just taken a major step backward in consumer-friendliness. Kobo…well, the most I can say about Kobo is that I haven’t heard about them doing anything overtly stupid lately, but I haven’t heard about them doing anything especially smart lately either.

. . . .

The only answer I can come up with is to try to keep limits on Amazon’s power by supporting its competition. But is that really Howey’s job? Why should he be obligated to support a bunch of lackluster companies who don’t even seem to be interested in trying to compete themselves?

Link to the rest at TeleRead

B&N Removes Download Buttons from Website, Stranding Millions of Customers’ eBooks

19 September 2014

From The Digital Reader:

Reports are coming in from multiple sources today that Barnes & Noble is locking down the Nook platform.

Nook customers on MobileRead Forums and on B&N’s own support forums are reporting that the download buttons for their Nook ebook purchases are no longer present in the My Nook section of the B&N website. These buttons enabled readers to download a copy of their ebook and transfer said ebook to another app or device. (While B&N is known for having mutant DRM, there are a number of apps that support it.)

Many of the reports echo this post from MobileRead:

I have a Sony, Kobo, and Nexus tablet, but not a Nook. I have purchased books from B&N in the past (mostly due to some good sale prices) and they have the books I purchased from Fictionwise there (I think it was Fictionwise. It was one of the multitude of now closed stores anyway).

It seems they have suddenly removed the “download” option from all of the books in my library.

Link to the rest at The Digital Reader and thanks to Christopher for the tip.

The Bookseller to preview indie titles

18 September 2014

From The Bookseller:

The Bookseller is to preview self-published titles from October, and has partnered with US bookseller Barnes & Noble to exclusively include Nook Press titles in the section through to April 2015. The new preview will give independent authors the chance to showcase their work and recognises the role of non-traditional channels to publication.

The “Independent Author Preview” will feature around 10 titles each month, from a selection exclusively supplied to The Bookseller by Nook Press, B&N’s self-publishing platform. The new preview will sit alongsideThe Bookseller’s respected previews, including New Titles, and Paperback Preview.

. . . .

The Bookseller editor Philip Jones said: “Our goal here is to discover the best new books published independently and made available to customers in the UK and we’re thrilled to have partnered with Nook Press. This is a new spin on what we have been doing for more than a 100 years, and recognises that some of the best new writing now comes through non-traditional channels. The Bookseller’s job remains the same, however, to shout about these books and bring them to the attention of our audience.”

. . . .

“We also encourage self-published authors who are not yet on our platform to sign up today to be considered for this great opportunity and discover all of the great promotions available to Nook Press authors.”

Link to the rest at The Bookseller and thanks to Diana for the tip.

Barnes & Noble Treads Water

14 September 2014

From Publishers Weekly:

There was a mix of good news and bad news in Barnes & Noble’s first-quarter financials, which the company released last week for the period ended August 2. On the positive side, B&N cut its overall net loss to $28.4 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2015, down from $87 million in the same quarter last year, with $50 million in cuts coming from downsizing the company’s Nook segment, which had a negative EBITDA of $4.6 million in the quarter, operating at close to breakeven.

. . . .

On the negative side, while a decline in sales of Nook devices was expected, sales of digital content fell 24.2% and sales through also dipped in the quarter. Klipper said that the relaunch of the website, originally set for late summer, is taking longer than expected, and rather than releasing it during the holiday season, the new version of the site will not be introduced until 2015. Reversing the sales slide of digital content remains a top priority for B&N, Huseby said; to that end, the company is offering $200 in free content to consumers who activate new accounts when they buy the new Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook tablet. B&N isn’t interested in just selling tablets, he emphasized, it needs to sell content as well.

Although Huseby didn’t offer details about the planned separation of Nook Media (comprising Nook and college bookstores), he implied that there is interest in Nook from outside companies. “What we are really finding out is that these third parties believe there is value in the Nook consumer assets and the catalogue, and our Nook Press, our publishing business, the people we have there, and our software—and that value probably exceeds our ability to realize it, based on our current capital structure,” Huseby said.

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

PG says when you’re firing people from the Nook division, you don’t get to keep the people you aren’t firing because everybody who is talented will go elsewhere. No wonder Nook can’t get its new website launched. All the good people are gone.

Charting Nook’s Decline

10 September 2014

From Digital Book World:

Barnes & Noble’s Nook division hasn’t fared well over the past four years. What was once thought to be the only credible challenger to Amazon’s dominance of the ebook business in the U.S. has fallen into a distant second or third position in the marketplace (Apple at this point may sell more ebooks than Barnes & Noble).

. . . .

“We’ve been rationalizing the business and trying to adjust the cost structure so it makes sense relative to the level of content revenues we’re generating,” said Huseby on an earnings call today, adding, “Obviously the Samsung partnership results in the need for fewer employees.”

The downside in all this, of course, is that Nook, once nearly a $1 billion business, is now a shadow of itself, something ebook publishers interested in a diverse retail marketplace should be wary of.

. . . .

Link to the rest at Digital Book World

Barnes & Noble’s Nook Business ‘Right-Sizes’ As Company Cuts Losses

10 September 2014

From Forbes blogs:

Good news today if you’re a Barnes & Noble investor: The company beat analyst expectations, shaving its first quarter losses to $0.56 a share, or just shy of $30 million on $1.2 billion in revenue.

Bad news, however, if you were among the dwindling few in the book publishing industry who still had hopes that Nook would remain a credible challenger to Amazon’s dominance of the U.S. ebook market: The Nook digital content and device segment saw its revenues decline 54.3% to $70 million versus the same quarter a year prior.

. . . .

If Barnes & Noble can turn Nook around and make it profitable and then sell it to a company — like Wal-Mart or Target, for instance — interested in competing with Amazon on new fronts and investing in the business, it could mean growth for what was once almost a billion dollar business.

Link to the rest at Forbes blogs

Barnes & Noble’s loss narrows, but sales fall

9 September 2014

From MarketWatch:

Barnes & Noble Inc. said its fiscal first-quarter loss narrowed as cost reductions outpaced sales declines as the bookseller gears up for its eventual split.

Barnes & Noble has struggled to adapt to shifting environments in book publishing and retail. Consumers are relying more on e-commerce outlets for book purchases, while e-books have cut into the market for physical books. The company’s retail segment posted a 5.3% decrease in revenue to $954.8 million during the most recent quarter.

The company sought to carve out its own niche in the tablet and e-reader space with its Nook device. However, the device failed to catch on as Inc. continued to exert its dominance in the digital-book market with its Kindle products, and the Nook business posted a series of losses. In the most recent period, the Nook segment’s revenue fell 54% to $70 million, while digital content sales declined 24% to $52 million.

. . . .

For the period ended Aug. 2, Barnes & Noble reported a loss of $28.4 million, or 56 cents a share, versus a loss of $87 million, or $1.56 a share, a year ago. Revenue fell 7% to $1.24 billion.

. . . .

The company attributed its retail sales decline to a 5.1% decrease in same-store sales, along with store closures and lower sales from its online operations.

Link to the rest at MarketWatch

Nook Press Glitch Fixed, B&N Says

8 September 2014

From Publishers Weekly:

A Barnes & Noble spokesperson told PW Monday afternoon that it has fixed a glitch that was delaying payments to some Nook Press authors.

. . . .

Now, according to a B&N spokesperson who spoke to PW, a “glitch” in the system temporarily caused a delay in payments. The spokesperson added that, “95% of payments” to Nook Press authors went out on Friday, and that the remaining 5% were due to be sent Monday.

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

Nook Press Misses Payments, Authors Left With No Explanation or Support

8 September 2014

From The Digital Reader:

Reports are coming in this weekend that Barnes & Noble’s self-pub platform Nook Press has dropped the ball.  An unknown number of authors are saying that their latest payment from B&N, which was supposed to be deposited in their account in the last week of August, never arrived.

. . . .

I’m still working to understand the scope of the issue, but at this time I can add that the non-payment has been confirmed by several authors on B&N’s own Nook Press support forums.

. . . .

What’s more, these authors also confirm Mr Swartwood’s comment that he had contacted Nook Press support and was ignored.

Link to the rest at The Digital Reader

Nook Redux: Is B&N Shooting Itself in the Foot?

23 August 2014

From Tech News World:

After Barnes & Noble bled serious cash trying to create its own Nook e-reading tablets to compete with Amazon’s Fire and Apple’s iPad — eventually, scrapping most of the Nook-building unit — I figured it was pretty much down for the count. The announcement in June of its deal to let Samsung give select tablets the “Nook” brand seemed more like a cry for help them a business decision that had much chance of success.

. . . .

I’ve encountered just a handful of Nook owners, but all have loved their Nooks. They liked Barnes & Noble. They were fiercely, surprisingly loyal for reasons I didn’t fully understand.

. . . .

The point is, Amazon and Apple were squeezing Barnes & Noble in the digital space because they just did everything at least as good, if not better, with a broader range of products and services. I’m a busy person — I just didn’t have the mindshare to spend on Barnes & Noble.

. . . .

Here’s where this new Nook gets really weird.

In retrospect, I think one of the reasons Barnes & Noble was able to sell as many Nooks as it did was its retail stores. While nowhere near as cool as a big independent bookstore with lots of cobwebs and character, Barnes & Noble environments are still sweet for book lovers.

In addition, there’s something comforting about being able to walk into a store and buy something concrete with a human interaction. Apple, of course, has made major headway with this tactic, building hundreds of Apple Retail Stores around the world. Heck, Microsoft even started copying the tactic.

Amazon doesn’t have this, so this brick-and-mortar distinction gives Barnes & Noble a chance to maintain its own chunk of the market, if not grow it.

Unfortunately, Barnes & Noble announced in June that it would split off its Nook Media business unit from the Barnes & Noble unit by early 2015 — so what gives?

. . . .

If you remove the physical nature of Barnes & Noble, I have a hard time seeing much of a growth play for Nook Media — it all comes back to other bigger and better players in the space, namely Amazon and Apple.

Instead of being an anchor stuck in the mud to the boat that is Barnes & Noble, the new Nook has the potential to become a paddle to build a richer everywhere experience for Barnes & Noble — but it seems as if Barnes & Noble is getting ready to toss the paddle overboard, too.

. . . .

Earlier this month, it partnered with Google to enable same-day deliveries from local Barnes & Noble stores through Google Shopping Express. The service is available only in a few cities, but it connects the physical book world to readers who are living in a bring-it-to-me on-demand world.

The arrangement with Google was a test to gauge whether Barnes & Noble could use its online reach to improve sales at its physical stores, CEO Michael P. Huseby told The New York Times.

“It’s our attempt to link the digital and physical,” he said.

If that’s the case, why not make it possible to use a handy new Nook device to let a customer have the option to order a physical book for same-day delivery? Even if people who read e-books end up preferring digital editions, some books they want to read on paper, to keep, to put it on their shelves at home. I don’t think this number is huge, but such a strategy builds and connects — it maintains Barnes & Noble as a relevant brand to consumers.

Link to the rest at Tech News World and thanks to Lisa for the tip.

PG says when someone writes the history of the ecommerce/ebook revolution, the BN chapters will be a saga of one missed opportunity after another:

  • good hardware paired with a terrible ebookstore
  • powerful physical store presence and ereader distribution undercut by an unwillingness to seriously compete on ebook pricing

Ultimately, PG thinks it comes down to a lack of digital chops by top-level management.

Despite a successful strategy of driving physical bookstore competitors out of business with aggressive pricing and stocking, nobody at BN ever seemed to understand the first commandment of high-tech success:

Build the coolest thing you can, then go for the biggest possible user base using the most aggressive pricing and promotion strategies you can think of. Once you develop a big and loyal user base, you’ll be in a position to print money. Spend money to get rich.

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