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[Unfiltered] B&N Rant

[me] May 2014
I posted a version of this on FB. I figured it probably deserved to be posted here, too, because I cannot be the only one having these issues. I'm revising it a bit because, well, Facebook isn't exactly meant for long posts... you can do them, but I doubt very many people click the "see more" link, if they even see it (at least, I've missed it more than once).

I think most folks know I have a Nook. I've, er, been a little evangelistic about it in the past. >_> Morgan and I were gifted with our first Nook Color back in 2008 when the rheumatoid arthritis that we both have hit Morgan's hands hard enough that they literally could not hold up a book to read anymore. I have similar problems with my hands, although I can read YA in print (... y'know, unless it's a doorstopper like some of the Harry Potter books), but any adult romance or SFF was right out. My own Nook Color followed suit, and I bought a Nook HD+ last year, which I'm starting to regret having purchased the 3yr warranty for.

However... for the past several months, I have been having issues when trying to purchase e-books. Often, BN.com will not let me log in (I'll put my username and password into the log-in, and it just... won't log me in). That's been happening since September or so, and I was able to get around that by going to the Nook-specific page on BN.com and logging in... but even that doesn't work half the time now. Something else that started in December is that clicking the "Buy Now" button will not bring up the pop up to purchase. I have confirmed this is not an error with my computer, as it has happened under multiple OSes and multiple browsers. I have run into about five unique types of errors, and I have friends who have been experiencing the same. BN support is useless; they have no idea and try to tell me it's my computer. DX

Some months ago, B&N updated so you can use the Google Play store (at least on the Nook HD+, I cannot say for the other devices) which includes the Kindle app. (ETA : I have just been informed this was a temporary glitch and you can no longer add the Kindle App on Nook unless it is rooted. Well, fuck me if I ever have to wipe and reinstall.) I have really avoided buying books from Amazon, because they are the elephant in the living room when it comes to digital book sales. I'll admit I also have an emotional attachment to B&N. My childhood was wretched in a lot of ways but all of my family are huge readers. Monthly trips to B&N or Borders were special, because while we normally made lists of books we wanted to check out and see if the library had (considering that we usually walked out with lists of 20+ books between the 4 of us... it was kinda necessary), but we also always got to pick out one book to take home. More if we chose to spend allowance money. So, I have happy fuzzy warm feelings with B&N.

But... the way they have handled e-books is truly abysmal. I mean, the site issues that mean I can't buy except from my device directly (and even that doesn't always work; I've gotten errors there, too, and if I want more than one book, finger typing the author name and title is annoying.), which is definitely a problem. Add to that, we had a BN membership for years, but they seem to offer less and less. There's I believe a discount on print books bought in stores, and there's free shipping for books bought online, but nothing for digital books. Unless I've missed it, there's nothing to incentivise readers to go into their stores and purchase digital books in store. Some of our favorite restaurants are up by our local B&N, and if they had something like that, we'd totally go in, use the store as a showroom, and buy online. We also almost always get stuff from the Starbucks in the B&N, too. We spent a not insignificant amount of time and money in the store, that they have completely lost. I mean, I understood why they didn't have anything like that when agency pricing was a thing, but now that it's gone, they're still sticking with the same old model. *headdesk*

(Edit for people who don't know what agency pricing is: this was a collusion between the Big 5 NY publishers and Apple to price fix books to prevent Amazon from discounting. If you really want some schadenfreude, look up the case, it's... look, I couldn't write fiction like this because nobody would believe people could be so stupid. All the pubs settled, and there have been many discounts, but Amazon still has an average lower price and more frequent discounts.)

The same old model is not going to work, and it doesn't seem like their stores are doing all that well, either, what with the plans for store closures, and that they are winnowing away books bit by bit. I don't go into a bookstore to buy kitschy knick-knacks, I go in to buy books. You know. These things.

Since I haven't been able to buy books on BN.com reliably for months, I've gone over to Amazon since I can read them with the Kindle app. I was shocked to find on a regular basis that books were $2-4 cheaper. I read a lot of YA, and BN would price them at $9.99-13.99 ... Amazon, $9.99 is the highest I've seen, with exceptions for niche stuff, and often they are lower. I see discounts a lot, and I don't mean necessarily the super-low 99c or $2.99, but $3 or so off the list price. $2-4 savings on a book is a really big deal when I often buy multiple books at a go.

What really struck me today though was Amazon's also-bought. I have heard good things about it from indie authors but I haven't really used it as a reader, not since I was a teen looking for new SFF. I went to pick up one book... and ended up picking up seven or eight, multiple by indie authors, because they popped up on the also-boughts (all steampunk, with the exception of a gothic romance set in Victorian England, which is close enough). BN's also-bought is... well. Flipping awful. I've had their also-bought pop up with books that aren't even in the same genre. (And I don't mean science fiction instead of fantasy, I mean stuff like religious non fiction when the book I was looking at was an urban fantasy demon hunter novel. WTF??)

I feel almost like I'm doing something "wrong" by "betraying" BN, but I know that's ridiculous. I've stuck with it a long way, probably longer than most people, and... well, WTF am I supposed to do if their site is so screwed up that I can't actually buy the book. I'm not going rah-rah Amazon, because I do have concerns about monopolies, but at the same time, their customer experience is a hell of a lot better than I can say for B&N right now. And I save money on books, which means I can buy... more books... wait, what is this "savings account" that you speak of? >_>

Much <3 to anyone who managed to read through this novel of a post... lol (and yeah, I know, I know, it took me this long to figure it out...)

This entry was originally posted at http://nonny.dreamwidth.org/513234.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Comments

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
theoldone
Feb. 7th, 2014 01:55 pm (UTC)
I get books from B&N when I can, and prefer the Nook (I'm a bit paranoid about Amazon being able to go into a Kindle and delete your library if they wish).

I wish I were more optimistic about B&N's long term survival, but they've gone from shooting themselves in the foot to kneecapping themselves.
nonnycat
Feb. 7th, 2014 02:53 pm (UTC)
I remember the incident with the library; that was for one specific book, which was pirated, and Amazon after the fact admitted that they had handled it poorly. Since that was several years ago now, and I haven't heard of any further instances (and if you have, I'd surely like links), I'm not too concerned.

... on top of that, I pretty much download and remove the DRM with the Calibre plug-in as a matter of course. I've been burnt in the past with software that was licensed, where the company went out of business and I could no longer access my files. While I think that highly unlikely with Amazon, I also want to have back-ups on my computer, and I want to be able to have the files to convert for use on multiple devices. It's very easy to do; it takes about five minutes to set-up, and then you just need to add the file to your Calibre and it will automatically strip the DRM. Ta-da.

Unfortunately, I agree about B&N. We have some 700 books bought from there. We've DRM stripped just about everything, and have a dropbox share so that my partner and I can both access the files easily. I don't have high hopes for B&N lasting more than 5yrs, max. Or any hope, really.
theoldone
Feb. 7th, 2014 03:29 pm (UTC)
I was thinking of the instance where Amazon was in a dispute over rights to a book, then deleted copies off of the Kindles of everyone who bought it.

There was a publicized case last year where a guy in Norway found his Kindle and account erased when Amazon found that he was in Norway. Why isn't quite clear.
theoldone
Feb. 7th, 2014 03:37 pm (UTC)
I should add that the simple fact that Amazon can erase books off of a customer's Kindle is disturbing.
aulus_poliutos
Feb. 7th, 2014 02:46 pm (UTC)
That Also Bought-feature is dangerous. I suspect Amazon.de (which has pretty much alll UK and US editons of English books, free of shipping) survives because of me. *grin*
nonnycat
Feb. 7th, 2014 02:55 pm (UTC)
I know! And with all these cheap indie books and discounted NY pub books! It's so easy to impulse buy, and you're getting more bang for your buck. Even though I'm probably spending more, I still feel like I'm saving money, lol. And finding all these interesting looking books that I probably never would have found otherwise (because the book blogs I follow sadly do not tend to cover SP except for breakout authors) is just awesome.
eydimork
Feb. 7th, 2014 10:22 pm (UTC)
Jealous! I'm only reading French, Breton, Danish or Norwegian fiction these days and even super-mainstream French ebooks, from Amazon France, are normally $15-20. As a struggling writer, I'll have to stick with mostly library books for a good while yet. But that's ok since I don't struggle with reading-related pains and the 22 mile round-trip by bicycle will probably be good for me. :p
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )