For Microsoft and Barnes & Noble’s New Partnership It’s Not About Vacuum Cleaners and Redneck Wine Glasses!

Happy Weekend, WG2E-Land!

In my 2012 Indie Epublishing Predictions, I asked the question “What If…Apple Buys Barnes & Noble”.

I was close to nailing it, but not totally right.

It wasn’t Apple that was going to step in to save Barnes & Noble…

It ended up being the other software giant…


And no, this partnership isn’t going to be about Microsoft competing with Amazon and beginning to sell everything from B&N Nook Books to vacuum cleaners and redneck wine glasses like Amazon does (but I did just buy a set of these superfab glasses, btw :-) )

This partnership is specifically between Microsoft and Nook, although it does appear that the former may have  input reserved in their agreement to at some point figure into, in some way, the Barnes & Noble brick-and-mortar stores too.

Here are two terrific articles from Digital Book World to catch you up to speed on this latest industry development…and it’s a HUGE game-changer:

Microsoft and Barnes & Noble Team Up To Take On Amazon, Apple

Possibilities Abound in Microsoft, Barnes & Noble Deal

And a third piece from Slash Gear:

Apple, not Amazon, is Microsoft’s NOOK Motivation

What I luuuvvv about this new Microsoft-Barnes&Noble Partnership is that it is an excellent example of why going Exclusive anywhere right now is not good for Indie Epub Authors, and all authors for that matter, whose goals are to grow our readerships as wide, deep and high as possible!!!

Case in point, I am now selling more Ebooks on what I call all my channels – so Nook, Sony, Kobo, Apple, Diesel and Smashwords – than I am on Amazon, and I’m still selling very well on Amazon, despite a substantial drop because I chose not to go with KDP Select.

There are many weeks now that my Nook sales alone beat my Amazon sales.

And with this new partnership in the works, I expect that ratio to continue to increase.

I do think that Microsoft will give Apple a run for its money in the tablet war, and they’ll use Nook as the device to change the game!

Wow…does that sure mean a shot at another level of visibility for us as Indie Epub Authors.

Oh, and yes, Microsoft has already said they will be taking Nook international!  So WooHooos all-around for all our International WG2E Indie Epub Author Peeps and all of us stateside too!!!

And Microsoft truly gets the power of Ereading, arguably something Apple never has. Check out what Microsoft President Andy Lees said in his webcast about the partnership:

“We are on the cusp of a digital reading revolution” and “technology will enable people to engage with content in new ways.”

To start with, Lees offered that a Nook Reading Application will  be included in Windows 8.

Not a bad start, right?

Industry stats now suggest that Amazon has about 66% of the Ebook market, with Barnes & Noble second at around 27% and Apple picking up third place with 10%.

That ain’t gonna be the numbers for long…

It’s also very interesting to me that we’ve now got the Device Makers outside of Amazon (B&N Nook and Kobo) partnering with leading technology and e-tail giants like Microsoft and Japan’s Rakuten. And Amazon has created their own E-tail Empire with their Kindle. But…The Big Six are still fighting it and making no moves into these kinds of partnerships.

Their butts are gonna get mighty sunburned the longer they remain like this:

It’s Your Turn, WG2E-Land:  What are each of your takes on this turn of events? Where will the Microsoft-Barnes&Noble Partnership lead us as Indie Epub Authors?

The Best of The WG2E’s Indie Epublishing Breaking News Wishes — D. D. Scott

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  1. Jeanne says:

    Wow! That’s interesting info D.D.! I’ll have to keep following this to see what happens.

    • D.D. Scott says:

      Very interesting indeed, Jeanne! It is truly a partnership that will have a profound effect on us as Indie Epub Authors.

  2. Thanks for this, D.D.
    “Industry stats now suggest that Amazon has about 66% of the Ebook market, with Barnes & Noble second at around 27% and Apple picking up third place with 10%.”

    That’s an extremely interesting statistic; it just shows how things are moving.

    • D.D. Scott says:

      Moving for sure, Alison!

      I think what Amazon has done with its KDP Select is created a brilliant way for peeps to have a terrific reason to come to Amazon to begin with, but they’re using the FREE Ebooks to lure ‘em in so to speak as if to say “and while you’re here, check out our vacuum cleaner prices and redneck wine glasses”.

      So people are picking up the FREE Ebooks but then not BUYING as many books at Amazon.

      That leaves Nook and Apple, who are both cutting edge on quality Ereaders/Tablets too, some huge room to move in and gain in the “all-readers market”…in other words the peeps who don’t want anything else from Amazon, just want to read on their devices and maybe surf the net a bit too.

  3. Jamie S. says:

    Way to go Microsoft!

  4. I think this is a good thing for the future of books in general and for indie authors specifically. I feel much better about the future of our industry than I did just a few months ago. Competition is healthy. Now we indie authors need to keep proving that readers want us, will buy us (not just download us free) and that we can consistently provide quality content so that the new massive players see us as value-added for their platforms and not just loss leaders!

    Guess I just really don’t care about the not-so-big six anymore. I don’t think they’ll disappear but the door is all but closed on their oppportunity to get in this game. I think they’ll shrink considerably and their role is now that of the tail, not the dog, if you know what I mean.

  5. Mitzi Flyte says:

    Oh, SNAP!
    Now I have to learn all those formatting styles? Nope – going to find a formatter or guilt my dear daughter to do it for me.
    You’ve convinced me: Exclusive is only for spouses.

    • D.D. Scott says:

      I use Rob Siders of 52 Novels, Mitzi, and he’s over the moon fantastic!!!

      Luuuvvv how you put this too:

      “Exclusive is only for spouses.” :-)

    • “Exclusive is only for spouses.” LOVE IT! :) I have one book in Select (out of 13) and am looking forward to the end of the 90 days. I did it to get more visibility for the book, but only after it’d been released on all platforms for 6mo already. It worked for about 2 weeks, but now I’m back to where I started with it and looking forward to being able to offer it everywhere again.

      As for this new development, I’m just going to watch here to see the developments because I don’t understand it all. I’m just hopeful for positives. :)

      • D.D. Scott says:

        Hopeful for positives never hurts, Stacey! :-)

        It appears that many peeps are trying Select for one round and not re-upping for the same reasons you are.

  6. Just another phase. In six months the world will have changed so drastically that this won’t even be news. How many “Kindle Killer” articles have there been in the last two years?

    All the devices in the world cannot change the fact that people will want free and cheap ebooks forever. All the partnerships in the world can’t create a world where digital content wants to be free. All the high-tech corporations in the world can’t plug all the cracks where books are pouring forth from people who simply don’t care if they make serious professional money.

    Now, who is poised to capitalize on free and subscription models? Right now, Amazon looks like the only one. Can anyone else create a good ad-supported and/or subscription models so books are free or at a low monthly cost for unlimited downloads? We’ll see. I don’t know that. Depends on where supply and demand meet. It still looks to me like BN is five years behind in a two-year race.

    • D.D. Scott says:

      These are great points to consider, Scott, and thanks bunches for sharing ‘em!

      You know that you and I definitely agree that FREE is the visibility advantage at this point, that’s why we’ve both created Reader-Focused sites in which Free Ebooks and Ebook Gifts (which are Free to our readers) are our lures to what else we’ve got to offer readers.

      And I totally think Subscription Services will rule our world across all platforms in the very near future, and that most everything we do will be from one device (whatever device we each prefer and use).

      I do agree too that B&N is waaay behind but at least they’re making a go of catching up, and who knows, right…may the best quants and programmers win this race before the next race starts…

  7. Liz Matis says:

    Thanks for keeping us up to date! I haven’t done the whole KDP select or free thing despite the fact that my Nook sales are dismal compare to my Amazon sales. Can’t figure it out.

    I have my second eBook signing today at a Barnes and Noble. This is the second one. This time though we ( members of HVRWA ) are doing it in shifts and are going to be in front of the store.

    • D.D. Scott says:

      The fact you’re doing Ebook Signings at B&N, Liz, is a HUGE sign they’re beginning to really embrace Epublishing!!! And now that the Nook kiosks are prime real estate (front of store) says a bunch more too!!!

      U Go, Girl!

      For me, it took much longer to “break into” B&N Nook Bestseller streams than Amazon’s, but WOW, once I did, the long tail sales seem to last a lot longer there!!!

  8. Julie Day says:

    It certainly is an interesting time for us indies. Will keep an eye on the happenings here as I continue with my indie career.

    • D.D. Scott says:

      That’s the way to do it, Julie…always keep an eye on where the industry is currently heading and then try to figure out and/or beat ‘em to their next destination OR create that destination yourself!!!

  9. CC MacKenzie says:

    Hmm, interest post, Dee Dee.

    I hear what Scott Nicholson is saying too. However, Microsoft are not B&N and Microsoft are a nimble footed bunch when they get their act together. As is Amazon. I suspect that this is going to make Amazon up its game even more with writers. How it’s going to do that I know not but they usually come up with something. Going global with ereaders at B&N is the biggie for me. B&N have broken ranks and leapt naked into bed with the digital revolution. If they can lose their protectionism tendencies and open themselves up to the global market they’ll do fine. And they need to let authors from countries other than the USA upload their work direct to PubIt.

    And what about Apple? They’ve now come to an agreement to download the Kindle app on your iPad and iPhone and vice versa but they’re still not making it easy for authors to upload to them direct unless they have a Mac and that simply isn’t good enough imho. Smashwords, Lulu & Co are fine and dandy but indie authors like control of their own work.

    Now Smashwords are trying to pay authors direct into their bank accounts rather than using paypal which is great news. Authors are incorporating as publishers and selling books direct to the reader from their own websites. The times they are a changing so fast it makes a person’s head spin. And all the while New York have their fingers in their ears with their eyes tight shut hoping it will all go away. Paper books will always be there in one form or another as long as there is a demand by the reader.

    I bet we see Amazon book stores with coffee shops sooner rather than later – just a feeling. And I bet we see paper books with a bar code or an embedded strip where the book’s automatically downloaded to the device of your choice – again just a feeling. Because at the end of the day all of these companies need to listen to the reader and what the reader wants is to have it all and have it now. Most YA’s are reading on their smart phones btw. Just look at Wattpad, millions of YA’s are all there writing, sharing stories, experiences and experimenting like crazy.

    I bet we look back in six months or a year and think, wow, who’d have thought it!

    Great post, Dee Dee, and great comments too.

    • D.D. Scott says:

      Fabulous ideas, CC, and thanks sooo much for sharing ‘em with us!!!

      I too think that “going global” element is vital to Nook’s being able to survive and thrive.

      And I was thrilled Smashwords asked me to test out their new direct deposit system and it worked great!!! Much better than having to transfer the funds from PayPal.

      Amazon Book Stores with coffee shops could end up being like the QVC superstores where you can find deals on everything under the sun! OR…Perhaps like the IKEA superstores we have here in The States where you can buy a couch and eat breakfast!!! :-)

  10. Great post, D.D.! Between you and Kristen, my head is spinning! Exciting times.

    • D.D. Scott says:

      Kristen’s posts this week were totally spot-on as always, Alicia!

      I do think the superfab plus-sized woman is tuning up her vocal cords for The Big Six’s final song.

  11. Adan Lerma says:

    your news stream is amazing ;-) thanks d.d.

    • D.D. Scott says:

      U betchya, Adan!

      I would highly recommend y’all sign-up for Digital Book World’s Free E-newsletter! It’s terrific!

      This year, I also became a Digital Book World Member (it’s $99/year) and will be attending their Annual Conference in 2013.

  12. Hmm…interesting information! Can’t wait to see what’s next! BTW, LOVE the glasses you purchased!

    • D.D. Scott says:

      Aren’t those glasses just totally over the moon superfab, Sharon?! LOL! Luuuvvv ‘em!!!

      And I’m with you…can’t wait to see what’s next!!!

  13. I have my books exclusively on Amazon’s KDP Select right now because of the Free feature which can be very helpful in my promotions. If it hadn’t been for that free feature, I wouldn’t have been able to sell 18,000 ebooks of Three Days in Seattle since it’s release at the end of February, 2012. I have a new book coming out in June, The Scent of Lies, and it will be on KDP Select for the Free promotion I am doing in June.

    I may not always go exclusive with Amazon, but for now it is my promotional tool. I will just have to keep a close watch on my numbers to see when to come off exclusive.

    • D.D. Scott says:

      You hit a key point here, Debra, and thanks bunches for bringing it up…FREE still works, but my point is, it doesn’t just work on Amazon…

      Can you imagine what would happen if your superfab books were available for FREE on all platforms?!

      I didn’t begin to hit it big on any of the other channels – Nook included – until my debut release was FREE on all of ‘em. That’s what has opened the doors for me everywhere!!!

  14. Bufo Calvin says:

    Very interesting and well-written, D.D….and a very different take from mine. :)

    There are two things about this, in particular, that might not make it super-positive for authors.

    First, it may mean the end of Barnes & Noble as a chain brick-and-mortar bookstore. Investors have been wanting Barnes & Noble to split off the albatross of the chain stores (even though that’s where the bulk of the money is still) so they could invest in the future, rather than the past.

    That was part of what happened here.

    Arguably, indies haven’t been benefited much by brick-and-mortars, due to the restrictive distribution (I speak as a former bookstore manager), but moving all the big players solidly into e-books is going to create more competition there. The Department of Justice suit may also mean that Amazon is discounting (sometimes significantly) the Big Six…putting you in direct competition with, say, Danielle Steel.

    Second, Microsoft doesn’t mind abandoning products when it gets tired of them. They were in the e-book market in a relatively big way before the Kindle (big fish in a small pond), but not too long ago, they announced the process of abandoning those customers.

    “Got books in .lit? Sorry, we aren’t even going to make the reader available for download any more.”

    It worries me a bit that Microsoft will cut loose the NOOK owners in a few years if it doesn’t work for them.

    The answer to the multiple formats and platforms may be what Tor is doing. Tor is a publisher that has been around for decades and is now part of Macmillan. They are going with no DRM (Digital Rights Management), which will make their books convertible for any device. They say they’ll be there on all of their e-books in July.

    I’m pretty much always a positive person :) , but I do see this as a step backwards from the cutting edge for Barnes & Noble (which has really been trying to lead the way). Less cutting edge is more traditional which may be worse for indies.

    On the other hand, you may be right and Microsoft champions indies going head-to-head with Amazon on that. That could be great. :)

    • D.D. Scott says:

      Let’s hope I’m right, Bufo! LOL! :-)

      I do think, at this point, it’s in Microsoft’s best interest to really court Indie Authors.


      Simply because Apple isn’t!

      Microsoft can see first hand what Amazon has accomplished via luring in Indies and what Apple has lost except for Indies using Smashwords and/or Macs and can thus get on Apple’s platform.

      I sell HUGE on Apple and that will make me attractive to Microsoft and fellow Indies like me who’s product and price can compete with Danielle Steel! How fun is that?!

      And I’ve argued for Indies to use non-DRM forever!!! Piracy concerns?! No way!!! Piracy means you’re in demand all over the world, and that ain’t nothin’ but good!!!

      I think Microsoft dumped the E-book market early on because it was too much work for them. But now that they can simply take over what’s already working, that makes it more attractive to them.

      Microsoft seems to be more of a take what’s working and expand on it globally kinda company than Apple who’s visionary upfront.

      And this time, Microsoft has seen the money that can be made from Ebooks and the powerful lure those products are to their consumers for everything else they offer too!

      What a fabulous thing that we can all even be discussing these types of possibilities!!!

      • Bufo Calvin says:

        Yep, I will hope you’re right. :)

        I’ll just point out that Microsoft doesn’t have a big history of taking content from small providers. There’s no Microsoft appstore, for example…

  15. Judith Lown says:

    I’m late to the thread but I want to add my thanks to you, D.D., for this post. I think (part of) your genius is your reflexive welcoming of change. You both set and example for and give explanations to some of us who are more tentative. I’m just finishing my first KDP Select contract which I used to launch my first e-book, A Sensible Lady. I used three of my free days for launch–which was one of the best purchases of publicity I can imagine, and I’m using today and tomorrow for my last two free days, hoping to get a boost before launching onto all platforms at the end of the week. But leaving KDP Select and trying something new took some “screwing of my courage.” Having read your post, I’m so glad I did.

  16. David Slegg says:

    Great post. It’s certainly going to be an interesting year.

  17. Great post; thanks for putting it up. Lots of good comments from other people about the eBooks, but I was also impressed by the glasses. They *do* look cool. Does they say ‘Bass’ on the side? I can’t quite make it out from the photo.