Barnes and Noble is heavily invested in the Microsoft Windows 8 ecosystem with their Nook Reading app. It allows customers to purchase eBooks and magazines and read them on their computer or tablet, such as the Microsoft Surface. Recently, B&N expanded their Nook Press self-publishing program into a few different companies in Europe. It allows indie authors to distribute their eBooks all over the world. One of the downsides, is that if you live outside of the US and UK, you can’t read indie books on your Nook e-Reader or tablet, the only way you can is via the Windows 8 app. Microsoft has publicly announced the Nook App will be removed in the near future and a new reading app will be developed called Microsoft Reader.
Microsoft Reader will be powered by Barnes and Noble and will allow customers to read and purchase books. There will also be solid PDF functionality so readers can load in their own titles. This entire situation is going to haunt Barnes and Noble because their own customers will have to use a competitors app and implore their base to buy Windows 8 tablets to read the books on the go.
Barnes and Noble has always ran Android in their e-readers and tablets. This worked out well when the only market they focused on was the US. B&N ran software to geographically restrict the ability to buy books from outside the States and UK. This means the actual Nook hardware is tremendously limiting and can only be used in two countries. When Microsoft scuttles the Nook Windows 8 app, where does that leave readers who want to buy and read Nook books? Apparently the situation is more complex.
The only way Barnes and Noble can avoid an unpleasant situation on behest of their Microsoft overlords is if the new Nook Tablets run Windows 8. I seriously doubt this will happen, but it would be the only way Barnes and Noble can sell its hardware outside of their two core markets and allow people to buy and read books on their device. Currently the Nook Windows 8 Reading app is the ONLY way readers in Canada, France, Germany, Spain can buy and read books. Why do you think B&N continues to lose over a billion dollars on Nook hardware sales? They are not appealing to a global audience and actually prevent people from doing business with them. Going the Windows 8 route on their new devices will solve this issue and make them more accessible. If they can develop the first Windows 8 Reading Tablet, it will be a great marketing ploy. Amazon and Kobo both bill their line of Android tablets as reading tablet, running Android. Nook can say, we have the worlds first Windows 8 reading tablet.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.