Posts Tagged ‘Nook Press’

Nook?

Saturday, July 11th, 2015

Last week Nook announced it was shuttering its international store and now there is, at least as far as I can tell, unsupported claims that the North American Nook store will also be closed. Maybe. But I’m not so sure. But first, the international issue.

From the get-go, I had doubts about Nook’s International offering. The first red flag was that it could take 6-8 weeks for a book uploaded through Nook Press to show up for sale in the UK and EU countries. A delay that long suggests a manual process, as in the US store and the International store not being served by the same servers and back-end. It made me wonder if they were doing uploads via spreadsheet and there were subtle indications and a few whispers that this might be true. Certainly, a 6-8 week lag is inexplicable if the US NookPress back-end was the same as the European operations. I really don’t know, but to me, that was a sign that something just wasn’t right with the implementation AND with the corporate commitment.

Then came VAT and B&N did it all wrong. They were the ONLY vendor that had no way of saying, hey, “assume the price I’m giving you includes VAT.” It totally screwed authors who felt felt they should/must/needed/wanted to normalize prices. Nook made it impossible for an author to provide EU/UK prices that end in .99 — a proven sales strategy. It put self-published authors at risk of running afoul of EU fixed price book laws as well as Amazon price matching. I worried about the price matching because in one case, when I lowered the price of a book I was promoting, Amazon price-matched the UK version of my book to the Nook version within two hours of my update at Nook — before I’d gotten around to the other vendors. Amazon didn’t price match the US price for another two days.

Theoretically, other book vendors shouldn’t have to care about the self-publishing environment at Amazon. They ought to be free to have whatever policies they like. That is not the reality. Google, which could be killing it in self-publishing, has several policies in place that keep a lot of self-publishers out of Google Play because those policies wreak havoc with those titles at Amazon. In fact, Christmas in The Duke’s Arms had to be taken off sale at Google because they’d decided to discount the book to $0.99 and Amazon was price matching it in an environment where that was harmful to our pricing strategy for the next anthology.

That’s a reality, and regardless of the fact that Google can, of course, do whatever it likes, there are many, many authors who do not publish to Google because of this (but also because their discounting policy requires keeping a brain-busting accounting of List Price/Actual Price. It’s awful awful awful.)

Bringing this back to Nook in the US, Nook did what was easy for them regarding VAT and immediately screwed self-published authors.

Now, I can also say that over the past two years, Nook has been a decreasingly important vendor in terms of sales. From everything I can tell, they still impose an artificial ceiling on the ranking of self-published books. They also made it difficult to find Nook Books at their website. I got a lot of emails from frustrated Nook readers who could not find my books in a search. Jesus. Just a terrible, terrible user experience.

Plainly Nook is looking to spin off the eBook store, which wouldn’t be so bad — especially if it ended up in the hands of someone committed to the tool. (I find that doubtful, alas.)

But does it make sense for Barnes&Noble to have no way to buy products on-line? Does it really make sense for Nook to shut out self-published titles entirely? Only if they intend to go the “Indie” route and hand everything over to Kobo the way other physical bookstores do. Which, you know, is a conceivable result.

If Nook Press spins off, it seems to me it would have to become more like Book Baby (::snort::) or Draft2Digital— an aggregator. OR it would have to try to be an independent eBook store. If it’s doing to try that, then I would be whispering to Draft2Digital that they need a direct-to-consumer storefront. They already have a superior author interface and they can already handle multiple file versions whereas Nook, to achieve that, would have to develop Kindle compatible processes. I don’t think Smashwords is a serious contender, by the way. They, too, impose harmful terms and policies on authors. (Automatic opt-ins, enforcing the text of  copyright statements when they are not the copyright holder so what the hell business is it of theirs how I word my copyright statements? their broken ePub upload process. No. Just no.)

D2D, however, appears to have real tech chops and a UX team that knows what the X in UX means, which appears to entirely escape Smashwords.

Interesting.

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Book News and Some Geekish Musings

Saturday, April 27th, 2013

Today I decided I would make Free Fall, my My Immortals series novella free for a limited time. I’m in the process of doing so. It’s been set to free at iTunes. I made it .99 at B&N since, to my knowledge, they don’t price match and don’t allow you to set the price to zero. I’ve heard, lately, however, that some Nook books have been price matched, so we’ll see. Later today I’ll get the file updated at Kobo (where I believe I can set it to free), Smashwords, and ARe.

So, keep an eye out!

The Geekish Portion of This Post

Since I was adding links for My Darkest Passion to the file, I also decided I might as well update the files to my newer spiffier versions. All well and good. I discovered something interesting and annoying at NookPress (the re-jiggered interface/replacement for PubIt).

Before I complain, let me say THANK YOU Nook Press for allowing book files to be replaced without having to take the book off sale. MAJOR need, and quickly addressed. Well done.

For people who are uploading Word documents, the on-line manuscript editor is really nice. I wish other places did this because this would fix an awful lot of heinous results. So, again, major kudos to Nook Press for this interface. If you’re uploading Word docs to vendors, it sure looks like the Nook Press interface gets an awful lot right.

But here’s what I discovered. As I was fighting through getting desired formatting for various devices, my title page was giving me the biggest fits. Kindle iOs was blowing out all my centering. But I wrestled it to the ground and we came to an acceptable compromise. I applied a similar solution to the Nook version. Which worked more or less. But my centering was not perfect, and it bugged me.

And, the Nook Press UI is confusing about what version is actually being made live. It’s a language problem, not a tech problem. Anyway, to get that straight in my mind, I went into the manuscript editor and looked around. I opened up my title page and recentered and resized the text there. Then I saved it and uploaded that. I previewed it in order to confirm the centering issue was resolved. And then, because I wanted to see what it had done, I downloaded the ePub and opened it up.

The downloaded ePub had a class called “booktitle” applied to my title page text. My styling had been removed (which I expected because I explicitly changed it in the Nook MS editor.)

That class was not defined in the page header section and it was not created in my stylesheet. There was not another stylesheet added.

And that means Nook has to have its own stylesheet functionality in the Nook rendering engine that contains this style. So, what the heck else is in that? What other styles does it have that might conflict with or override mine?

I’m not all that bothered mostly because there’s nothing I can do about that and it didn’t seem to screw up anything. But it would have been really nice to see what Nook is doing to address centering for its devices. Frankly, if they have a preferred set of styles, why wouldn’t they share them? Think how much easier and cleaner that would be!

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