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Sunday, August 25, 2013

Barnes & Noble Needs to Get it Together With the Nook

I  like the Nook. I believe it’s a great device. Unfortunately due to Barnes & Nobles’ mishandling of the e-reader it winds up being treated like the red-headed stepchild of the Kindle and the ipad.

The Nook is the Atari 5200 of the 21st Century. Great design, easy to use, and a strong solid catalog of titles. It’s one of the best e-readers for documents with special formatting like screenplays. All About Nikki-The Fabulous First Season reads just like the paperback on the Nook. -

Unfortunately, like the Atari 5200 30 years ago,  the Nook’s growth has been hampered by Barnes & Noble’s mismanagement.  What’s keeping the Noook from competing with the Kindle is the way Barnes and Noble sells eBooks and the way they promote them. Barnes & Noble just doesn’t understand that eBooks aren’t sold by retailers or publishers, they’re sold by authors. Most of the top selling eBook titles are sold by indie authors like myself.

And we can’t use the device to promote our work because Barnes &  Noble won’t offer us the tools to promote books on the Nook that we have on Amazon’s Kindle.

Amazon has the KDP Select program. That program has allowed authors like myself to access an audience of new readers. The ability to promote books as free on the Kindle gives readers an opportunity to try new writers and if they like them buy other books in their catalog.

I’d love to promote some books as free on Barnes & Noble. Unfortunately, I can only do that through Smashwords. I believe If I had an opportunity to promote books as free through the Nook directly I could reach the audience of Barnes &  Noble customers out there. If B&N made promoting books free on the Nook without the exclusivity Amazon insists on, they could gain the upper hand in the eBook wars.

The second big problem for the Nook is that Amazon, Sony and Apple also allows e-readers access to the international market. This is a big market for indie authors like myself. I get a big chunk of free sales from foreign readers and some sales from foreign readers. So far Barnes and Noble only has the UK Market. Nice, but if the Nook is going to compete with other e-readers it has to do something about allowing readers an opportunity to publish in foreign markets.

Another problem for Barnes &  Noble is the fact that there are No tweet or facebook buttons on the pages for books like Amazon and Smashwords has. This is the main reason I pass them by in my book promotions. I use social media primarily to get the word out about my books and without Twitter buttons, Facebook buttons and Pinterest buttons I have no way of posting links to my followers letting them know the book is for sale on their site.  Sure I could copy and paste, but that’s a hassle requiring me to have two tabs open at the same time. If Barnes & Noble had a Twitter button, a facebook button and a Pinterest button on the pages for all the books on their site, I’d use them a lot more often than Amazon or Smashwords.

In addition to the lack of promotional tools for authors on Barnes &  Nobles’ website are the spam reviews. I’ve got several on some of my titles and even after reporting these incoherent messages left in the review section for some of my eBooks they still haven’t been deleted. It’s  aggravating for me to direct readers to a link to a title I publish and then have to deal with page full of spam. All those spam reviews look so sloppy and unprofessional. Amazon deletes the junk on their pages and polices their site judiciously, and Smashwords doesn’t put up with nonsense either I’d think Barnes and Noble would establish some standards for quality on their site as well to give their eBook customersr a quality shopping experience.

Along with the website problems and the lack of publisher tools, The Nook also suffers at retail from Barnes & Nobles’ decision to hire inexperienced people to sell the device. Instead of hiring salespeople who know the Nook in and out, they hire 18 and 20-year-old college students who don’t’ know how to work the device. Most times when I’ve gone into a Barnes & Noble no one will show any customers how to use the device. Nor have they worked with the device and gained an understanding of how sell the features on the e-reader to the customer.

Even more frustrating than the inexperienced salespeople are the broken or frozen nooks that sit on the sales floor. I’ve tried to use a nook in store several times and couldn’t get the e-reader to start. Seeing a device that costs $200 frozen in-store is not an incentive for a customer to buy it. In fact, this is one of the primary reasons the nook struggles at retail. Customers want to be able to tinker with the device. Authors like myself want to show our work on it to customers. But too many display items are nothing more than paperweights.

I really like the Nook. And I really like shopping at Barnes & Noble. I’d love to post more links to their store on my blog and use them in my book and eBook promotions on Twitter and Facebook. But in between their poorly designed hard-to-navigate website, and lack of promotional tools, and I can’t utilize them in promoting my work to readers the way I do with Amazon and Smashwords. If Barnes & Noble were to get it together with their digital publishing business, I’d be glad to use them to promote my titles more often.

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