B&N flails, fails with new NOOK Press initiative


Like a lot of authors who self-publish, I have work available on B&N’s website for the Nook. However, while they have made a single good decision (“Nook” is a great name for an ereader) they have consistently making terrible decisions ever since. Now, they’re turning their Pubit! program into Nook Press and it looks like they have made some awful choices.

Why do they want to make “100%” of my book available for free to people who log in to the wifi at B&N? Why not just a sample so they could, you know, sell the book? I would much rather limit the amount of my IP that’s available than their limit of 1 hour’s access.

I have to admit: it bugs the shit out of me that booksellers can change my prices at their whim. Yes, a store has the right to set it’s own prices, but if a store wants to sell a book for one penny, they still have to buy it at the publisher’s price. With ebooks, they’re the ones who are deciding MY price. That’s ridiculous.

As for the FastPencil stuff, I’m not sure what B&N is trying to do there. Do they want to be the new Wattpad? For those who don’t know, Nook Press is offering an online community space that includes a word processor. That’s right, they want to be the place where you WRITE your book, not just sell it.

What’s more, you can invite “collaborators”–other readers, editors, who knows?–to read and mark up your manuscript. So it will be a space where you can find editors, or crowd-source your copy editing, or get blurbs.

I’m just hopeful that there will be a way to turn off those invitations; based on my reading so far, that’s not possible.

Finally, you can’t update your files once they go on sale. You can only pull them completely and reload them as if they’re brand new. So, let’s say that a reader sends you a note about a couple of typos you missed, or maybe you have an “Other books by Hope Ful-Author” section that you want to update with your latest releases: you can’t change the book without also losing the sales ranking, every review it had received so far, and breaking every link to it from outside sources.

That’s so stupid it goes beyond stupid. I can understand why they want to take all pricing power to themselves, as unfair as that it. I can understand why they might think it’s a good idea to let readers hang out in the store and read ebooks. I can even understand why they let themselves be convinced by some consultant that they needed to make themselves a social media type community.

But why would you make self-publishers break every outside link to your product just to replace a file?

You know what they should have worked on? They should have fixed their search engine. The last time I looked at a Nook, you couldn’t search by author–typing in my name did a keyword-type search that showed you Michael Connolly’s Harry Bosch books before you found any of mine. Maybe that’s been fixed; I don’t know. One thing they’re still doing wrong is that there’s no way for me to claim my own books. There’s a photographer in Maryland who published under the same name as me, and his work appears next to mine when you click on my name on their website. Why is there no way for me to identify my own work and exclude his, for our mutual benefit? Amazon allows it.

I don’t know, you guys. It’s been a long time since I learned of a piece of news in publishing that has made me excited for the future.