Can Nook ever match Kindle (i.e. are Nook Sales dead?)

I consider the war of the e-readers and whether Nook is capable of surviving it’s competitors.

This article partners with my previous posting on Amazon Select.

Once upon a time, there were no e-readers.

As a child and later teenager, Borders was always my favorite book store. I’ll admit that I cried a little when they went out of business. Granted the writing had been on the wall for a while. Borders was slow to enter the e-reader market, had over saturated the country with more stores than were practical (I mean, there were at least six in my county alone!) and simply failed to embrace the digital era as fast as it’s competitors. So I was forced to find another favorite book store to take the place that Borders had in my heart.

Enter Barnes and Noble. Although for years I had only traveled to their store to use gift cards (and a rewards program I had to pay for? Please, I was broke!), I found myself willingly visiting their stores more and more often. They were also the only book store in town. With B&N’s willingness to innovate and it’s prime position as largest US bookseller, one would think that victory was almost assured.

Wrong. Amazon’s Kindle has dominated the market, with Apple’s iPad tussling with the more limited Nook eReaders. This last year, B&N reported an 11% drop in it’s Nook revenue – both from the sale of tablets and the sales of books. Why is this happening? Costs, costs, and costs. With brick and mortar stores, B&N has a necessarily larger bottom line that it must maintain. Second, it’s tablets lag behind the Kindle Fire or Apple’s iPad in performance and flexibility. While Nook Color does has similar capabilities, and has received excellent reviews, it’s sister tablets have given B&N a hefty amount of trouble. Oh, and remember that price-fixing case that the Justice Department got involved in? Yea, good old B&N was involved in that too.

So how does this impact you, the ebook writer/reader?

Nook and Kindle
Nook and Kindle (Photo credit: evilgenius)

1.) As a writer, my sales on B&N website have been… well, flat. I mean, hovering around zero. I’ve sold maybe two dozen books there in about four months of selling. I’m sold that many on Amazon in a weekend. Is it worth it to keep open that possible purchasing stream? Or does it make more sense to go with KDP Select? (I’m just happy I’ve got a few good reviews on there, so at least my novel looks good!)

2.) As a reader, I was tempted to purchase a nook, especially because you can get books from the library as rentals on them (Pretty cool!), but in the end I got an iPad because I wanted more versatility. If I had known more about nook’s similarities, I would have considered it as well. But it just isn’t out there!

3.) As both, I wonder what would happen if Amazon came to truly dominate, rather than just overpower, it’s rivals? Would we see increased prices with dominance, coupled with reduced royalty rates? Would federal regulators step in to stop one company from controlling the majority of sales of the written word in the US?

Last, there is some good news for Nook. Microsoft just pumped a hefty chunk of change into it’s operation, for minority rights and the creation of a new operating system for nook tablets in college bookstores. Also, their expansion into the U.K. market will hopefully bring them some much needed new customers. One hopes that this will eventually expand to more European markets as well. Personally, I think B&N would be best served by trying to enter China BEFORE Amazon can get Kindle there. I mean, only a few hundred million people would be interested.

Will this be enough for Nook to hold off the heavyweights? Time will tell, but personally, I’m not betting on them yet.

Learning from My Self-Publishing Experience in Five Steps: Part 2

Learn from my Self-Publishing Experience: Part 2 – Advance Reader Copies and Promotional Opportunities!

Hi all, and welcome to part two of my self-publishing experience post.

It’s a busy time of year here in the mid-Atlantic. School is ending and all the stuff that goes with that is being thrown together in a hurry! I’m moving rooms, moving houses, and have to balance all that with grad school and writing. Whew! When do I find time to sleep?

Here’s a quick review of the earlier post

1.) Create an online presence in advance, not when just publishing.

2.) Get some beta readers and have your book read before an editor looks at it.

3.) Make a publishing plan and stick to it. Do your work in advance so you won’t have to do it on the fly.

Here are steps Four and Five.

Cover of "Kindle Wireless Reading Device,...

4.Send out Advance Book Copies – So you’ve published your novel, but no one knows it exists. And no one is willing to risk their money on an unrated novel. It’s easy to spot friend and family reviews, so what’s an author to do? The answer: Advanced Reader Copies. Grab some people you know, but aren’t your closest friends, and ask them to take a look at your book. If you’ve already done step 1 and 2, then you probably have some people who you trust to review your book fairly and honestly. Notice I didn’t say POSITIVE. A book with a ton of five-star reviews the second it comes out may arouse suspicion, and can garner angry reviews from readers who buy it based on those reviews but find it horrible. On the other hand, a book with a mixture will most likely elicit people’s interest and will garner more honest feedback. People don’t like buying an unknown quantity, and especially don’t like getting duped. But with a few reviews, more people will be willing to try it, even if it’s a three and a half star book.

Now you can purchase book reviews through Kirkus and other websites, but it’s far cheaper and more beneficial to you to utilize your readers. A handy thing to toss in at the end of your book is a nice ‘If you liked the book, please review it online” comment. It can’t hurt, and certainly can help, even if you just get one person to review out of 10, if you sell 100 books that could be ten positive reviews! That’s a nice amount to show up on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Also, don’t forget that you can take snippets of reviews and put them on your blurb or other places, like your website – especially if they are from a more recognized reviewer. Just be sure to credit where the review came from.

5. Promote, but don’t be obnoxious – So you’ve got your twitter and Facebook and goodreads account and everything is going well. Are you posting a million messages a day about your book? Hopefully not! That’s annoying and is called spam. But I know none of you would ever spam… right? It can drive your followers away if all they get are messages about your book. Be different! Write about your life and what’s happening. Limit yourself a few posts a day. Be sure to use your hashtags effectively too.

I’m not saying to never talk about your book, I’m just saying use common sense. It shouldn’t be the only thing happening in your life! Here’s a list of some other ways to get people to try your novel.

1.) Write a short story or two about your world and make it free (or $0.99) on all marketplaces. People can decide if they like your writing style. For example, I’m in the midst of something called ‘The Traitor’ about the non-assassination of Julius Caesar. Maybe it will bring in some readers. Maybe it will reward twitter and Facebook and blog followers.

2.) Use your online presence to team up with other indie authors for cross-promotion and similar things. Especially around the holidays (and right after!) deals and networking can really pay off!

Anyways, I hoped that helped. What do you all think about what I learned? I’m sure I missed a ton of other things, which I’m sure I’ll have to write about in the future!

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