Is it time to worry if you have a Nook?

In my post over at Mad Genius Club earlier this week, I wrote about Barnes & Noble appointing a new CEO and how one of his first challenges would be to determine what to do about the Nook Division. From the beginning, B&N has been behind the proverbial 8-ball when it comes to the Nook. By the time it debuted, Amazon had already pushed out the Kindle and had a thriving e-book store. B&N’s ebook store was trickier to navigate and some of the restrictions on the Nook were enough to drive most geeks up the wall. But B&N continued fighting and, in the process, has lost millions of dollars.

Unfortunately for B&N supporters, the problems the company faces are numerous and go beyond the Nook. But the Nook, and the related e-book store, is a major problem and has to be dealt with as soon as possible. That is especially true after the roll out two weeks ago of a new website that was broken. A quick check this morning shows there are still problems. Of the top five best sellers in the Nook store, two will allow you t read a preview online. Of course, instead of opening up as a popup on the product page, it opens in a new window. That is a problem because it means you have to navigate back to place your order if you are looking at it on your laptop or desktop. The preview window is slow to load and I am talking very slow. Most folks aren’t going to wait for it to finally come up. Instead, they will do as I have, move on to something else. As for the other three titles in the top five, there is no preview. Whether that is a software glitch or the publishers deciding they don’t want to risk potential buyers seeing how bad a book really is, I don’t know. But it doesn’t look good when you can’t see a sample of 3 of the top 5 best sellers.

Now comes news that B&N truly is closing down its Nook operations overseas. As the article states, this isn’t too surprising. For one, Nook books were available overseas only via a Windows 8 app (the exception being in the UK). Here is the email, translated from German, that customers received:

Dear Customer,

We recently announced that Barnes & Noble and Microsoft have agreed to terminate their commercial partnership. As a result, payments through your Microsoft account no longer supported. In addition, the NOOK App for Windows will from August 7, 2015 are no longer available outside the United States. This means that your NOOK content can no longer open on a Windows platform.

Our records indicate that you are outside the United States and that you are using your Microsoft account as a payment method in your NOOK App for Windows account. Therefore, you may be eligible for a refund from Microsoft for any purchases you have made with your Microsoft account.

So, what does this mean?

Right now, no one really knows for sure but speculation runs from B&N leaving the e-book market completely to finding a buyer for the Nook division to the new CEO somehow managing to save it all. My guess is that they will continue to try to find someone to buy the division. That would be best for the customers because history shows us that B&N isn’t really dedicated to the e-book.

If you have books you have purchased for your Nook or Nook app, I highly recommend you back them up. In fact, back them up on several different media formats. If you want to break the DRM on them so you can read them on non-Nook apps/devices, there are instructions on the net on how to do that — that that I am recommending you do that (nope, not at all. Not saying you should break DRM which is illegal in some areas. Not at all. This is the disclaimer. Yep, it is.) The reality of the matter is simple. We’ve already seen B&N destroy one market when it took over Fictionwise. How many people lost their books in that transition? How many more will lose their e-books if B&N shutters the Nook division completely or if it sells?

As an author, this is when you have to seriously sit back and ask yourself if it is worth putting your e-books up on the site. First of all, they put out a new, and supposedly improved, website that was broken and that cost everyone money because customers couldn’t use it. But then you face the issues of what happens if they shutter the division or spin it off and then it goes into bankruptcy (also a possibility although a long shot). If someone buys the division, do you want to have your work automatically roll over into their new store or do you want to have a chance to see how things shake out there?

For me, it is a non-issue because I gave up on B&N long ago. When they changed their indie publishing program to the current one, I had trouble uploading files that weren’t broken in the process on their end. It didn’t matter what format I uploaded. Their process broke the files every single time. I finally gave up and went with Draft2Digital to handle the uploads for me. Of course, doing so cost me money and the low sales, very low when compared to my Amazon sales, made it not worth the time or money. So I pulled out of B&N and haven’t looked back.

But, if you have a Nook or if you publish through the B&N indie platform, I recommend you keep a very close eye on what is happening and start figuring out what your next move is going to be. Do not get caught unprepared if something does happen with the division.

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