Jun 022010

“While supplies last,” receive a free $50 gift card with the purchase of a $259 Nook e-book reader. (Supplies of Nooks or gift cards? Can they run out of gift cards?)

The Nook is one of the most popular competitors to Amazon’s Kindle. Both sell for $259, and both include a 6″ e-Ink screen, free 3G wireless downloads, and the ability to store and read thousands of e-books.

The Nook comes with a small color LCD touchscreen below the main B&W e-Ink display. The color screen can show book covers, various menus, and an on-screen keyboard. On the plus side, it is helpful to see covers in color or browse the Internet. On the minus side, it can sometimes slow down the device and it drains the battery much more quickly than the e-Ink screen.

The Nook also comes with an SD memory card slot, and includes WiFi connectivity. Barnes & Noble gives you some freebies (cookies & e-books and such) when you bring your Nook into a B&N bookstore. The Nook reads the more-standard ePub format (along with PDFs and text files), and can borrow e-books from some libraries using the Overdrive system.

A large part in any Nook vs. Kindle decision might be whether you prefer shopping at Barnes & Noble or Amazon. Amazon is known for having the largest selection and lowest prices for e-books, but B&N is probably a close second.

The $50 gift card gives the Nook a significant advantage, so it’s like getting the Nook for just $209. That’s a heck of a deal for a dual-screen e-reader with free lifetime 3G wireless coverage included.

UPDATE: The Nook is now priced at $149 for the Wi-Fi model and $199 for the 3G model.

B&N Announces "PubIt"

Barnes & Noble announced today that they will be opening their doors to independent publishers and self-published authors through their “PubIt” program, expected to launch in “Summer 2010.” While this move isn’t exactly groundbreaking (my novels are already available at Barnes & Noble), it’s still a welcome step forward. Currently, self-published e-books are made available on B&N.com through an intermediary: Smashwords, which is a fine company that offers a great service to independent authors. Soon, however, we will have the ability to upload our work directly to B&N, which will presumably offer us more control, a faster turnaround (it can take months to get your books or any changes to show up on B&N), and possibly higher royalties. B&N says royalties will be announced within a few weeks, and promises they will be “competitive.” It is hard to imagine how they could offer less than the 70% that Apple offers and that Amazon will offer starting July 1.

Amazon led the way for the self-publishing revolution with its Digital Text Platform, which allows any author to upload their work in e-book form to be sold on Amazon.com. So while one could argue that B&N has been following rather than innovating (releasing the Nook 2 years after the Kindle and arriving over a year late to the self-publishing scene), I’m glad to see B&N moving toward and embracing the future, unlike some businesses I could mention. I would expect a direct upload channel to B&N will enable me to create a higher-quality, better formatted source file (with Smashwords, it’s best to upload a simple, generically-formatted file that gets converted to multiple formats), quicker upload and revision times, better control over the description and category, and — hopefully — a higher royalty rate.

Another big benefit might be quicker sales reporting: currently, Amazon Kindle sales are reported instantly … which leads to incessant checking several times a day. 😉 B&N sales, on the other hand, get reported through Smashwords, and are currently on a 3-5 month delay. I started selling on B&N at the very end of January, and I haven’t even received my first sales report yet — all I can do is watch my sales ranking and guess. So I don’t know if B&N is turning into a worthy second sales channel, or if B&N sales are still just a tiny fraction of Amazon’s. It would behoove B&N to get this info to me more quickly, so I would know whether or not it’s worthwhile to devote more promotional efforts their way.

My only concern is whether the new file I upload will replace or sit alongside the Smashwords version that’s already active on B&N. I’d certainly like to keep my description, reviews, and sales ranking (Right Ascension has made it into the Top 7,500 there!).

Anyway, it’s an exciting development, and having both the #1 and #2 booksellers in the world throwing their weight behind self-publishing is certainly an encouraging sign. I still have more questions than answers (How many am I selling on B&N? What will the royalties be? When will it launch? What format do they want me to upload? Can I migrate over my existing product details?), but I remain hopeful.

P.S.: I seem to get most of my feedback from Kindle users, so I’d love to hear from a few B&N / Nook users: Have you purchased my books from B&N? Have you enjoyed them? How did the formatting look on the Nook? How many of you are out there??

© 2010 David Derrico