Barnes & Noble’s Nook Press self-publishing platform will be available in the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands and Belgium, and in all those countries’ languages, from tomorrow (18th March), B&N has announced.
Authors will receive royalties in local currency, whether sterling or euros, at rates “competitive” with extant Amazon and Kobo programmes, Nook Press global general manager Theresa Horner [pictured] told The Bookseller. Authors who choose to price books in the sweet spot between £1.50-£7.99 will receive 65% of the list price for sold content. For books priced below or above (as low as 75p, as high as £120.00), the royalty drops to 40%. Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing authors receive 70% royalty if their books are priced between £1.49 and £7.81 but e-books priced outside this range will only yield 35% royalty rate. Kobo pays a 70% royalty on e-books priced between $1.99 and $12.99, and a 45% royalty on e-books below $1.99 or above $12.99.
Horner emphasised that Nook differs from other platforms in that “there are no hidden costs. We don’t charge for file downloads.” There will be a 60-day net payment cycle (on a sales threshold of £10 minimum), with easy-to-understand real-time sales reports, enabling authors to track daily and month-to-month sales. B&N will cover bank wire fees.
Plans are underway to expand soon into Canada, Australia and Switzerland.
Specific to the UK rollout is a “Digital First” merchandising program for “selected” Nook Press titles at no cost to authors. These books will be offered alongside commercially-published titles, afforded “prominent” placement on Nook.co.uk and the integrated shops on Nook devices.
Colin Eustace, Luxembourg-based general manager for Nook International, said that members of his expanded team – numbering 12 and possibly growing – will select those titles by staying abreast of self-published content that is rising in sales. Digital First books will not be limited to specific genres like romance or SF. “We’re excited to promote any content,” Eustace asserted.
All this is occurring at a time when self-publishing is exploding and seen as a vehicle for growth, whether by Amazon, Kobo, or major publishers with their own subsidiaries, and when the Nook operation is very much embattled on home turf.
As reported at the end of January, Nook third-quarter (B&N’s fiscal year begins late April) content sales were down 26.5%. As recently as February 26th, B&N c.e.o. Michael Huseby admitted that the Nook staff headcount had been reduced by 26% and that there would be further consolidation of jobs and offices. This new international push into the self-publishing arena goes counter to that general tide.
“We understood the priority of getting launched outside the US and recognized the number of wonderful independent voices not being served whom we could offer to the reading customer,” Horner said. But the process of getting there was “complicated,” requiring a “company-wide” effort. “We had to figure out how to pay in local currency, deal with tax and other financial details, different languages, etc.” All told, development took “six to nine months.”
Eustace expects the announcement to be “well received” by writers in the UK, who have been anticipating the move for months.
“Hundreds of thousands of Nook devices” (B&N does not disclose exact numbers) have been bought in the UK via John Lewis, Dixon’s, Argos, Blackwell’s, Foyles, and online channels Shop Direct, Littlewoods and Very. In addition, Eustace points to the free Nook reading apps that readers have downloaded in the US and UK onto IoS, Android, etc., and the Nook for Windows 8.1 free app on the continent.
B&N underlined the strong partnership with Microsoft. Existing US Nook Press authors holding worldwide rights will see their content rolled out into the new territories over the coming months. Conversely, Horner emphasized for UK authors, “our goal is not only to help them find an audience in the UK, but to tap into the US and globally. We want everybody!”
Writers will be able to try out Nook tools before committing to the platform. Like Kobo (and unlike Amazon), B&N is offering a “Live Chat” support service between 8a.m. and 5p.m. GMT in local languages. Friends and collaborators will also be able to read and comment on any project in a secure environment. As soon as an author clicks “publish,” the book will go on sale within 72 hours.
B&N is pushing an advantage over Amazon: it “has no exclusive mentality.” Nook allows users to put their work into an ePub file that they can sell via any other online bookseller who accepts ePub. “Our goal is for authors to feel we’re partners.”
“We know our customers want more, and more global content, and we want our catalogue to reflect that,” Horner says. “The great advantage that B&N brings to the party is that we are dedicated book retailers and focus on merchandising.”
Customers will get two emails a week from Nook Press; there will be social media marketing, newsletters, and focused programmes such as Nook Press Presents.
“A key DNA difference with our competitors,” Horner maintains, “is that we aren’t just satisfied to put the stuff on sale. We will pay attention to selling it.”
At a difficult digital juncture for the retailer, B&N is hoping that international expansion into self-publishing can help it do a lot more of that.