More Bad News for Barnes & Noble

Here we go…again…more bad news for Barnes & Noble and their Nook devices.

(And yes, this is the face I want to make…)

Check out these articles (from Digital Book World-DBW):

B&N Digital Content Giveaway

(where they’re offering $50 in free content for Nook HD+ buyers)

Revenues and Profits Down at B&N in Third Quarter, Nook Division to Cut Costs

(reporting that Nook revenue was down 26% from the same time last year-because of low holiday sales, despite digital content sales increasing 6.8%)

Nook: Cost Cutting Coming

(predicting lay-offs are coming at the Nook Division…so…uhm…how are they going to build, grow and make improvements with even less people?)

To put this in perspective, let me give you my real holiday sales numbers for Nook (comparing last year’s holiday sales to this year’s sales):

December 2011 and January 2012 = $11,165.40

December 2012 and January 2012 = $1,537.22

***Note: Yes, last year was a HUGE breakout year for Ebook Boxed Sets, and I was one of the first offering 6 books for just $2.99 and quickly became a Top 10 B&N Bestselling Author across all genres. But still…that’s one helluva nearly $10,000 difference!!!

I’ll take this a step further. Let’s forget about the holiday season and take out the Boxed Set factor and look at my Nook Sales otherwise…

I’ve gone from averaging about $1500 per month on Nook (again taking out the huge months where I make $5,000+ with them) to about $800 per month. So, I’m making around half of what I used to with them this same time last year.

Not good, right?


This is a wonderful example of why it’s sooo important to have your Ebooks available on all platforms all the time!

You never know which Etailer is about to take a nosedive. And, if you’re available everywhere, when one is down, another is usually up.

For me, Kobo is becoming quite a force, and despite the fact that I’m not in Amazon’s KDP Select Program, I’m seeing those numbers start to go up again. (Nothing like they were last year at this time on Amazon, but I’m still headed up, not down.)

I wish the best for all of my Nook Readers, but I’m not so sure B&N has the guts to do what they need to do to hang in there for the long term. Their history shows that they always aim to please shareholders, not customers/readers.

They’ve got to offer more content for better prices, drastically upgrade the quality of their Nook Online Stores and figure out how to brand themselves so that people even go there to begin with for something fantabulously unique. Again…nothing that’s a short-term gain that will pad their shareholders pockets.

What do y’all think, WG2E-Land? How were your Nook Sales this holiday season compared to last year? Can B&N make it? If so, how are they going to turn things around?

The Best of B&N Nook Wishes — D. D. Scott

D. D. Scott is an Amazon and Barnes and Noble Top 100 Bestselling Romantic Comedy and Humorous Mystery Author. She’s also a Writer’s Go-To-Gal for Muse Therapy and Indie Epublishing, the Co-Founder of The WG2E- The Writer’s Guide to E-Publishing, and the Founder of The RG2E – The Reader’s Guide to E-publishing.  You can get all the scoop on her, her books, her Online Classes and Live Workshops, plus juicy tidbits too from her new cyber home…D. D. Scott-ville.

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  1. Ummm…I don’t have my books available on all platforms yet. I wanted to see how it went with Amazon first and it’s not going well. It’s a long story about why I’m not able to have my books available on Nook at this time.

    • D.D. Scott says:

      It takes awhile, sometimes a long while, to pick up sales steam on each platform, Nancy. So no worries. Hang in there and keep on workin’ it!!! :-)

  2. Hi DD,

    Thanks a million for sharing your Nook numbers and your thoughts on the B&N situation. I really feel for the Nook owners (like my sister) if B&N is providing an inferior platform compared to Amazon, etc., and if B&N eventually folds their Etail division, Nooks will instantly become obsolete. What a shame.

    I epubbed my second novel in late fall and decided to try KDP Select (the first one I went ‘broad’). That’s when my sister told me she couldn’t buy it because Nook won’t support Amazon ebooks. (call me a newbie) That was an eye-opener for me. Other than the 1,000 free downloads during the 2-day Select Freebie, my sales have been very slow, so I’ve gained nothing by keeping it exclusive on Amazon. I will change that at the end of the 90-day period.

    It will be interesting to see how it all shakes out. Thanks for helping us stay on top of it all DD.

    • D.D. Scott says:

      Excellent point, Sheri!

      That’s another HUGE reason why I just don’t believe in exclusivity. I don’t want to ever have to say “no” to a reader in that “no, I’m sorry, you can’t get my books on your (name the device here).”

    • SK Holmesley says:

      For people who have Nooks, they can continue to get .epubs from distributors like Smashwords as long as their Nook runs. It will just be a learning curve if they’ve never done that. It will also be up to the author to make sure whoever formats their .epubs test it on the Nook too, if they want to continue to reach those readers, since the HTML5 recognized by Nook is not as robust as the HTML5 recognized by the iPad.

  3. Patrice says:

    Thanks for sharing your numbers, DD, but it is depressing, isn’t it? I’m not doing great on B&N but my sales, esp the box sets are doing well, and my numbers are up over last year.
    Kobo is also picking up for me. Amazon-not as good as last year. All in all, I’m not making the big paychecks that I once did, but I need to get more content out there!
    Good luck one and all – and to B&N!

    • D.D. Scott says:

      That’s a great point on Boxed Sets, Patrice! Most of my sales on B&N are Boxed Sets. So those babies definitely work there as well as on all the other platforms! :-)

      And thanks bunches for sharing your experiences with us!

  4. I’ve been seeing growing sales on Nook and All Romance – Kobo is sort of simmering a bit…wish they would have more places to promo Kobo books…

    Amazon is doing some things that are disturbing – removing the tags in US on books, some people report their ‘like’ button is missing…and now one author is reporting that Amazon is sending email letters to people telling them to return her ebook (after 6 months) but not why – she’s on NYTimes bestseller list…and has a publisher… but her first self published book is causing her to owe Amazon…WTF!!!

    Being on everything is very smart…but I think the economy is going to be the key to sales…no matter what the price of the book. I actually had a Free one returned LOL!

  5. Ruth Harris says:

    DD—Perfect timing!

    A case in point: I just now went to B&N to change a price. Got a message “we’re having technical difficulties.” Went back to try again. Got a message: “you have to wait one hour before making a price change.”

    So here I sit, trying to give my Nook readers (all 3 of them) a bargain & I can’t. I’ll set a timer & go back in an hour & try again.

    In a word: B&N is upgefucked.

    • SK Holmesley says:

      It was like that back in January too. I uploaded an updated copy of one of our books, then when it wouldn’t accept the cover, tried to upload again. Got the same message. Tried 5 times over 2 days, then just left it since I was redoing the cover anyway for Apple’s new requirements. I did successfully upload a new release by my daughter-in-law in the same timeframe, so it’s apparently the change code for B&N changes that have the bug.

    • D.D. Scott says:

      I hear ya, Ruth…Pubit can be very clunky and unresponsive a lot!

      It takes forever, for example, for their reporting features to generate…and that’s an everyday issue.

      Often, when I’m uploading a book there, it doesn’t go the first time. Not that they reject it. That’s never happened. It simply won’t go to begin with. It’s as if the system gets hung up. Luckily, it’s managed to save what I’ve done, but I then have to go back and hit the publish button again.

  6. B&N has never been sensational for me, but in addition to sharing your belief in publishing on diversified platforms, I also believe that Amazon needs to have viable competitors. So it will be interesting to see how things shake out.

  7. Boogers. I just had my best month ever on B&N, following my next-best month for them. Still a fraction of my Amazon earnings, but I like the growth. I hope they don’t tank…but I’d better hurry up and get the rest of my eBooks available for Kobo, which also takes ePUB.

    • D.D. Scott says:

      I’ve had some fabulous months on B&N too, Bettye! And congrats on yours!!!

      Even though my sales are down there, I’m still selling around 800 units a month, and that’s nothing to blow off and move on. I’m on B&N for the long haul, so I hope they make it too!

  8. SK Holmesley says:

    B&N just picked up Fictionwise customers. As a long standing Fictionwise customer who had funds outstanding (only about $5, so not really issue), I received an equivalent promotional certificate from B&N. I’ll get over there at some point before it runs out and use it, but depending on how many of us had $ outstanding, that might generate an influx. It might not sell Nooks though. We have both iPads and a Nook, but I prefer the iPad for reading or even my laptop, since it’s always with me, so the Nook is my last choice as a device. But we do keep one for testing formats. If B&N is serious about staying in the digital game, they need to stop creating devices with varying price points that change based on the quality of the reading experience (screen quality, etc.), rather than the robustness (i.e., storage space) of the device itself.

    • SK Holmesley says:

      Also since December, I sold 2 books on B&N. It was our leader book (the Regency–the one we can afford to loose if we end up in an egregious distribution situation, so always our first up book). I did wonder though if it was because of the influx of Fictionwise readers. I know that with only a few exceptions the digital books I have that are Regencies, I got through Fictionwise. FW had a very thriving Regency reader (say that 5 times really fast :-) ) base, so it wouldn’t surprise me if that’s the case. The thing with Fictionwise was that they refused to accept stock from Indie’s, so after a while (once the tradpubs had dumbed all their stockpiled titles onto FW), it was hard to find Regencies by newer authors, since the tradpubs wanted to go to paper first. That Regencies, though, I don’t know about other lines.

  9. Joe Bruno says:

    I gave up on B&N a long time ago. I have nine books exclusivly on Amazon (KDP Select), and I’m glad I made that decision.

    I make more money on Amazon Prime loans (more than 2 bucks per loan) in one month than I made in the past from total book sales on Smashwords, in the same time period (all other book-sellers combined).

    Yet, I write true crime non-fiction. I’m not sure these numbers would hold for fiction, and I’m not likely ever to find out.

  10. lizzie starr says:

    Hmm. While my sales are nothing to write home about (though much better than when I was with an epublisher) my B&N sales are a good triple or more what I sell on Amazon. Though I’ve got books there, Kobo hasn’t discovered me yet. :)

    It’s just all so very interesting.

  11. You didn’t cite this story:

    Last year with infusion of cash from Microsoft the headlines were all about splitting off the profitable Nook business from the sagging retail store business. This year, Leonard Riggio wants to buy back the bookstores and try and revive them while the Nook business tanks.

    I’ve always been a fan of Nook but lately–not so much. I own an original Nook, which is probably getting toward the end of its life, so I’ve been thinking about alternatives. I’m afraid to buy a new Nook and being further locked into B&N content because I’m not sure they’ll be around much longer. Since I have a significant investment in DRM’d Nook books, I’ve been looking at tablets. I really want an iPad mini, but haven’t convinced myself to spend the money yet. Once I do have a tablet, I can see myself buying more and more books from Amazon because they still have the best shopping experience.

    Since my book only released in January, I don’t have last year’s sales figures for comparison. I do know that I’ve only sold 2 Nook books, one of which was to a friend. (Not that I’m dominating the Amazon lists either, but I’m getting more than 2 books sold.)

    Barnes and Noble has to know what the problem is with their Nook business–poor search engine, lack of customer support (the ereader app for Mac has been broken for over a year and they show no signs of fixing it), not embracing indies, etc. If they don’t, they’ve been living under a rock. Or they’re dumber than they look.

    • SK Holmesley says:

      I really hate the DRM’d books. I bought 1 from Adobe way back when they were testing the waters with their own digital book store. They tried it for about a year, then dumped the idea, updated Adobe Reader, and I could never open that book again. With Fictionwise (where most of my existing eBook library originated), I only bought the books that had a non-DRM’d PDF version, because none of the trad-publishers who sold eBooks through Fictionwise could guarantee that their DRM’d books were even readable on whatever platform they were releasing for.

  12. PJ Sharon says:

    I sell next to nothing at B&N. On two books, I made about $15 last month. I’m discontinueing my Select participation and uploading to Apple and Kobo to see if I can reach some new folks, but B&N hasn’t done much for me at all. I can’t figure out how to break in there.

  13. Of all the people I talked to at an event yesterday, most had Kindles, many preferred hard copies, a few used Kobo and SW, but not one Nook. Hmm. Still, I sold a few on Nook overnight so maybe the quiet people did own a few. You never know what will happen in this business – just need to keep reading the WG2EP!

    • D.D. Scott says:

      Great observation, Nancy!

      It’s the same way over on our sister site, The RG2E. For every book we feature, we usually have just one Nook request (for an Ebook Gift Copy) and actually more Kobo and Smashwords requests than Nook. Kindle by far leads the way in the number of readers using that device and platform.

  14. Angela Brown says:

    I’ve noticed a number of articles cropping up regarding B&N’s recent reportings. And I just came off of KDP select with the only book I have and am adding my second publication to Amazon, Kobo and B&N soon. Not sure how B&N will turn things around or if they can…at least not by themselves…Hmmm…

  15. I don’t want to see them go, but what you said, D.D. – “they always aim to please shareholders, not customers/readers.” is key.
    I also agree with Elise – “Barnes and Noble has to know what the problem is with their Nook business–poor search engine, lack of customer support (the ereader app for Mac has been broken for over a year and they show no signs of fixing it), not embracing indies, etc. If they don’t, they’ve been living under a rock.”

    While Amazon can be unpredictable, and like any big corporation is self-serving, B&N has done nothing to encourage indie authors, who are a force of both content, buying power and promotion. And yes, their app for non-Nook owners is terrible. I tried it on my iMac twice and it just does not work. If it did, I might actually shop on B&N.

  16. VERY timely post as I am now moving away from Amazon exclusivity into the other ebook stores.
    DD have you done or could you do a step by step post on boxed sets? Including how to make the images of same (is there a program that does this or does one have their favorite book designer do this?) and perhaps some advice from authors who have them as to what to include (ie 3 books? more? boxed sets seem obviously best for series, but what about packaging up stand-alones from one author? Does this work?), how to best price them, etc. A dumb question perhaps, but does one make a MS with all the books in it and format it as one, with a therefore hefty TOC?
    Thanks for all of the great info on here. Love this site. :-)

  17. The sad thing is that for me, the Nook Touch is a better eReader. It’s the most comfortable in my hands, easiest on the eyes. Amazon was already a bigger retailer, yes, but I think the problem grew as authors voluntarily chose to only distribute their books through one retailer (which Amazon really rewarded with KDP Select).

    It was really important to me to make sure my book was available on as many eBook platforms as possible. I might take a slight hit per book, but I want it in the hands of as many people as possible, and people shouldn’t be forced to support Amazon just to read my book.

  18. My Nook sales are pretty good. Certainly good enough to warrant NOT putting all my books in Select. (I just have one in there and will not renew when the current 90 days is up.) They’ve gone up and down, and like DeeDee said, usually when one starts to drop, another channel starts to pick up a bit. I really hope they don’t go under simply because I don’t like the idea of an Amazon monopoly. Thankfully, Apple and Kobo are increasing, even though my sales don’t reflect that yet. It wouldn’t be good for anyone except Amazon if they gained a solid monopoly.

  19. Doug Welch says:

    I think KDP Select has been the real killer for B&N.
    Last year the clear majority of my sales came from B&N’s site. Of course B&N’s big in romance but both B&N and Apple led the pack with Amazon in third place.
    Now I’m beginning to see an upswing in Kobo Apple and Amazon. It’s a good argument for not making your work exclusive. No one can predict this business with any accuracy and denying yourself the maximum exposure is a bad decision.

    • D.D. Scott says:

      I agree, Doug! I do think KDP Select has been the final blow for B&N. The sad thing is, B&N never even tried to do anything about it to counter the effect. Yes, I know they did that Nook First deal, but it was extremely narrow in focus, and was rarely offered to Indie Authors.

      Also, they do price match FREE books but do absolutely no publicity on them. That said, I still have around 2,000 FREE downloads of my debut release there each month. But I don’t think that’s because of the B&N website leading readers there. It’s more my own promo efforts.

  20. Pat Gragg says:

    I hope Barnes & Noble makes it. I also hope Amazon’s KDP Select program with the resulting massive promotion and sales of free ebooks ends soon. From what I’ve been reading, ebook sales are down. A free book now and then is great, but to flood the market with thousands of free ebooks is not a good thing. Plus, I can’t help feeling that advertising ‘best-seller’ lists of free books is absurd.

    • I’ve also wondered how many of those free books actually get read. I know there were some real success stories in the early days of the KDP Select program, but I wonder if that’s still true, and if the number of downloads of free books actually reflect real readers.

  21. I hate to see Amazon’s top competitor tank, but I own a Nook and won’t buy from them anymore. Everytime I buy a book from B&N, their DRM won’t let me open it without rebuying it. I’m not talking a free download here … but books I’ve BOUGHT! And no customer service to fix the problem.

    And then there’s PubIt, which I gave up on and now distribute through Smashwords. I sell a few books through them, but not many. I can’t even FIND my own book (or any others) doing any kind of browse search, even for keywords. If I don’t type in the title exactly, it doesn’t come up, which means the people who are finding me there I suspect are looking for me specifically.

    Don’t like the way B&N is going down, but they really need to get their act together or step aside and let somebody else pick up the mantle.