About three years ago, then-VP, Digital Content and GM of Barnes and Noble’s Nook Press division Theresa Horner sat down with GoodEReader at the Frankfurt Book Fair to discuss the state of the company, namely its self-publishing option and its ebook self-publishing platform. She posed the question as to what it would take to effectively compete with Amazon. Our response–which was not at all tongue in cheek–was for the retailer to stop banning indie authors’ books from brick-and-mortar stores. If Nook Press had developed a viable print-on-demand option and then told authors there was even a possibility of seeing their titles in their local bookstore on the condition that they pulled their books from Amazon’s exclusive KDP Select program, authors would have jumped at the chance.
Unfortunately, that didn’t come to pass and Theresa Horner is no longer with the company. The concept of opening the doors–and the shelves–to great self-published titles fell by the wayside.
Since that time, B&N has announced two print-on-demand options, both of which fell far short of meeting indie authors’ and small press publishers’ needs. One was to simply allow the upload and creation of print editions for what basically amounted to collectors’ editions and gift giving. The books were not listed for sale through B&N, and there was a significant upfront charge to produce them–unlike CreateSpace, just to name one example, that charges nothing to produce a print book then takes a portion of the sales price after it distributes the book to Amazon. Even though the Nook Press print option also included the choice to create a hardcover edition, there was no help in selling the print titles.
B&N’s other option was to place Espresso Book Machines in select brick-and-mortar locations. To be honest, the EBM is a fantastic publishing tool, although again, it does nothing to help an author sell his titles. Books that indie authors produced in-store were still not available on the shelf.
Now, the retailer has some (hopefully) exciting news that will come out today. In an earnings call to investors only a matter of days ago, the company outlined several key proposals for the coming year, which included Barnes and Noble table-side service restaurants and a plan to cut losses of the Nook division down to $30M to $40M in the coming year. But tucked in there was a tiny mention of a plan to reshape the Nook Press print-on-demand model, with further details to come out on the 28th.
Hopefully, this time B&N will actually identify the needs and wants of self-published authors and the many small presses which are still forced to rely on a POD-based model for their paper editions. Again, GoodEReader is in the same position as 2013: if you want to take down Amazon, give the authors a reason to make the switch.
UPDATE: Barnes and Noble just issued a press release on its Nook Press print-on-demand service. As we predicted, it finally puts in motion the possibility of authors seeing their books on stores shelves. Opponents’ concerns over a general drop in quality of books in the stores are unfounded, as all submitted titles will be vetted for approval and have to meet the company’s outlined standards. Authors will also be required to be “eligible Nook Press authors,” meaning their titles must be available as ebooks on BN.com and not included in Amazon’s KDP Select category.
There’s another catch, though: it’s not just about quality, it’s about prior sales. The opportunity is limited to titles “whose eBook sales [of a single title] have reached 1,000 units in the past year.” In-store book signings and live events will be limited to those whose “eBook sales [of a single title] have reached 500 units in the past year.”
New York, NY – June 28, 2016 – Barnes & Noble, Inc. (NYSE: BKS), the nation’s largest retail bookseller and a leading retailer of content, digital media and educational products, today announced that NOOK Press, NOOK’s innovative self-publishing platform, has launched the NOOK Press print platform to provide NOOK Press authors with an easy-to-use, self-service program that enables them to create hardcover and paperback books for customer purchase. Through the new print platform, eligible* NOOK Press authors have the opportunity to sell their print books at Barnes & Noble stores across the country on a local, regional or national level, and online at BN.com. Authors can also qualify** for the opportunity to participate at in-store events including booksignings and discussions, where they will be able to sell their print books and meet fans.
To have their print books considered for in-store placement on a local, regional or national level, eligible NOOK Press authors can submit their print books for review by Barnes & Noble’s Small Press Department and one of the company’s corporate category buyers. To participate at in-store events, top-selling NOOK Press authors are eligible for an event review from a Barnes & Noble store manager. They can contact email@example.com for more details.
“Barnes & Noble is proud to be the first to offer coordinated, national distribution for self-published authors who will benefit from in-store placement at Barnes & Noble stores and online at BN.com,” says Fred Argir, Chief Digital Office at Barnes & Noble. “No one else can offer self-published authors a retail presence like Barnes & Noble can, and we are thrilled to lead the movement to innovate the self-publishing industry by leveraging our stores nationwide. We look forward to seeing how the new all-in-one platform will increase the success of our authors!”
Many NOOK Press authors share Barnes & Noble’s excitement for the new NOOK Press print platform, including New York Times bestselling author H.M. Ward:
“I think the NOOK Press print platform is going to be a tremendous success,” said Ward. “For authors, being able to have their books available in print and digital is huge. For readers, they suddenly have access to more bestselling titles at great prices. Barnes & Noble and authors can make self-published books available in stores and at events, which is something the competition can’t do. This is a game changer and shows that Barnes & Noble has the capability to change the self-publishing model in a way that no one else can.”
The NOOK Press print platform is for anyone who wants to make a professional-quality print book of his or her work. Any self-published print book can be made available for sale on BN.com in about 72 hours of being uploaded to the NOOK Press platform.
The NOOK Press print platform walks self-published authors step-by-step through the print book creation process. All they need to get started are print-ready PDF or Word documents of their interior text and cover. NOOK Press provides authors with all the tools and resources needed to help create print-ready files of their work. For more information, authors should visit print.nookpress.com .
*Opportunity available for those print book authors whose eBook sales [of a single title] have reached 1,000 units in the past year.
** Opportunity available for those print book authors whose eBook sales [of a single title] have reached 500 units in the past year.