On the surface, there’s much to like about Barnes & Noble’s updated/upgraded digital self-publishing platform, Nook Press, but once you get past the hype, does it really deliver?
For the uninitiated, Nook Press is being touted as a revamped version of B&N’s Pubit, their original self-publishing platform that lagged considerably behind Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing. But while the overhaul was certainly welcome news, and definitely long overdue, it falls short in ways that leave you scratching your head and wondering, why? With the ability to use KDP as a model on which to build, it would seem nearly impossible for them to have gotten it this wrong.
To the upside, the new dashboard is slicker and more user friendly, with an easy-to-use previewer and an added sales tab that one-ups Amazon, but the main event of the upgraded platform is the built-in editor. Not only does it enable an author to edit within Nook Press, the entire book can actually be written right there, no word processing or formatting skills needed. This feature is a giant leap ahead of Amazon, but…
While I applaud the ability to edit right within Nook Press, perfect for minor changes, I can’t imagine why anyone would choose to write a substantial amount of work, let alone an entire book, on what is at best a clunky word processor when compared to Word and its competitors. With this one exception: for someone who lacks the necessary formatting skills and does not wish to learn or hire someone to do it for them, writing an entire book within Nook Press might make sense. But, and this is a huge but…
Unlike Amazon, the undisputed industry leader in digital self-publishing, that allows authors to make modifications to the book’s manuscript after it’s been published, the Nook Press’ editor becomes worthless once you’ve published your book. As the FAQ’s point out:
A. NOOK Book Details can be changed after you put your Project On Sale as a NOOK Book, but at this time, the NOOK Book itself cannot be updated or replaced. To update or replace a NOOK Book that is currently On Sale, you would need to take the Project Off Sale, download the ePub from the Project page, create a new Project, upload the downloaded ePub or create a new Manuscript in that Project, and then put that new Project On Sale as a NOOK Book.
It’s an astounding piece of news that, frankly, boggles the mind. Not only does Nook Press not allow you to edit a book once it’s been published, you can’t delete it either, lessons I learned the hard way, shortly after publishing my novel and discovering a completely unrelated problem that necessitated changes.
Having already had a properly-formatted manuscript ready to go, signing up to Nook Press and preparing to publish was a breeze. After inputting all the book details, I made short work of uploading a cover photo and the manuscript. A quick check in the dashboard previewer showed everything was perfect, as did the converted ePub file Nook Press provides for viewing in Adobe Digital Editions.
Although ready to publish, just for the heck of it, I uploaded the same manuscript, only this time including a cover photo inside, and sure enough, the previewer displayed two covers, satisfying me that B&N, like Amazon before them, now also used the separately-loaded cover photo, previously only for marketing purposes, as the book’s cover photo. Twelve hours later, my novel, The Unholy Trinity, was on sale, a fairly effortless proposition up to this point. Stoked, I did one last thing—checked the “Read Instantly” feature, but sadly, there was no cover.
Going back to my Nook Press dashboard, a quick check using the Nook previewer confirmed the book cover was still there, so I once again downloaded the available ePub file, and sure enough, there was the cover. Next stop, the support team, via “Live Chat”. Predictably, they were backlogged; an hour wait to get someone to chat with.
Dear Barnes and Noble, what’s the point of having “Live Chat” if you’re not going to sufficiently staff it, especially at a time when you’re launching a new service and thus know ahead of time that you’ll be slammed?
In all honesty, once I got a chat buddy, she was very helpful and even downloaded a copy of the book to her Nook. Sure enough, there was no cover. “What now?” I asked. “Take the book off sale, then contact NookPress@nook.com,” was the reply. Not necessarily the answer I had been hoping for, but I complied. Since then, forty-eight hours have elapsed, an inexcusable amount of time with no response. See the above paragraph regarding customer service!
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Right after contacting Nook.com, I decided to run an experiment by replacing the existing manuscript with one that had a cover photo. If you’ve read the blog, you know what happened next…you cannot edit a book once it’s been published! I’d have to start from scratch, creating an entirely new project, and once again input all my book details. While I didn’t mind it the first time, Nook Press had become tedious and insulting, especially since it’s hard imagine B&N wasn’t aware of the numerous shortcomings of this upgrade, prior to launching it.
To sum up. The release of Nook Press was massively premature, for the shortcomings as much as the glitches. And even once the kinks are ironed out, is the semi-useful editor enough to make up for the fact that, with Amazon, self-publishers can edit a book after it’s been published? And they can publish print books with Amazon, via their print-on-demand service, CreateSpace? And get paid 5% more in royalties? And reach a much broader customer base? And…
Bottom line—When it comes to B&N, I’ve reverted back to being a fence sitter…maybe I’ll publish with them, maybe not. The reality is that, for me, Nook Press appears to be little more than a lateral move from Pubit, an annoying second option for publishing your eBooks!
“I’m just sayin’…”
A follow up on several items contained in this blog.
First, about a week after this blog was published, the Nook Press team took note of the intense criticism they were receiving from authors, regarding not being able to edit a book once it was published. They had been requiring authors to create entirely new projects to make updates, even if it was only to correct a few spelling and punctuation mistakes. However, now they’ve followed suit with Kindle Direct Publishing, allowing authors to replace the manuscript with a new version. Better yet, with their exclusive built-in editor, an author can make changes, or even write the entire manuscript, right within the Nook Press dashboard.
Additionally, after tiring of waiting for a response from Nook Press as to whether they had fixed the glitch with the cover photos, I went ahead and uploaded another manuscript, without a cover photo inside. Whereas my cover photo hadn’t been showing up inside the book once it was placed on sale, when the new version was published and visible on my product page, a look inside using the preview feature showed the cover photo was there. Likewise when I downloaded a sample and viewed it on Nook for PC.
A note for anyone new to Nook Press. Simply upload your manuscript, sans cover photo, then upload the photo where prompted under Cover Image.