Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Authors and publishers are treating the Nook like it is the red-headed stepchild of ereaders

I just finished an excellent book written by an author that I will choose at this point not to name. I read the book in three days. The publisher is an independent press. First some background.

I own two kinds of e-readers. The first is an iPad and the second is a Barnes and Noble Nook Color.
I buy a lot of books on the Nook because I cash in my Discover Card rewards for gift certificates to Barnes and Noble. Plus, with one of their stores just right across the street from where I live, and the demise of Borders, I felt that I should do something to keep Amazon from destroying the last big brick and mortar bookstore chain in America. Every little bit helps.

So...I buy Barnes and Noble ebooks. I buy quite a few of them.

Chances are, if you're an author with access to your own sales and you mysteriously see one Nook sale next to the hundred kindle sales you have...that one customer is me. Again, I get gift certificates for just using my Discover Card so in a sense, they're free to me and FREE IS GOOD.

However, even though I represent only 1% of your sales, it does NOT give you a license to shit all over the end product. I'm getting sick of it.

In this book put out by independent publisher above that I finished just tonight, a page ended mid-sentence with the word "the". I turned the page to continue to read and it was a whole new paragraph. What the hell? I can only assume by the context of what was going on that either an entire paragraph was omitted, or an entire page was left out. Okay...big deal, right? It gets better. I'm reading along and then pages start repeating over and over and over. I have to drag the bar to advance past them and then backpedal to where I was to continue the story because there are so many of the same page inserted in the Nook formatting.

But it isn't just them. Another independent publisher had a book that had the author's name inserted mid-sentence at the bottom of a page (this isn't a spelling problem but a formatting one). And I've come across foreign letters only represented by empty squares.  I have to infer from the context of the sentence what word was used.  Also, I've bought self-pubbed books who have the screwiest indents (either omitted or glaringly huge) in the Nook but their kindle editions apparently are just fine. And when I say screwy...I mean REALLY F'IN SCREWY so that the book is damn near unreadable. I don't care that the author goes back and corrects it. I'm not going to buy the book twice to download it. Burn me once, shame on you.

You know who hasn't messed up on Nook formatting? Anything done by the BIG SIX.

All of their books are fine. Gee...I wonder why that is? Haruki Murakami's 1Q84 looks pristine. R.A. Salvatore's book that I'm reading has no repeated pages. George R.R. Martin's books look great.  Even old school books like Isaac Asimov's Foundation look passable (and they probably don't make money formatting his books for the Nook anyway). I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that the reason their books don't suck on Nook is because they choose not to make them suck.
I think I know why this is happening. It's called "Apathy". Small publishers and self-pubbed authors are like, "Amazon is the only thing that matters. Kindle formatting is the only thing that makes us money." Well screw you. I'm a consumer, and I own a Nook, and I would like a little respect. Either do it well or don't even make your book available on the Nook...period. But I have five friends that own Nooks as well, and if you don't make your book available to me...that's five friends that will never hear about it (and one of 'em is part of a small book club).


  1. Ugh. How frustrating! But I'm totally laughing at this. I don't own either a Nook or a Kindle, but they should totally be the same no matter what the heck you read it on. Just like when you buy a printed book from Walmart or Barnes and Noble... they should both be readable.

  2. My sons both have Nooks. I think the big 6 are the big 6 because they are more professional than the smaller publishers. If those smaller publishers ever want to be big, they need to start getting these small but important things right.

  3. I will now express my feelings with emoticons instead of words.

    200 words in: --_--

    300 words in: O_O

    End of post: X_X

    The nerve of them! It is prudent to market to all the major e-readers and not cater to one. Not only are they losing money, but they're hurting their reputation.

  4. Is the Nook only available through B&N? We don't have that in England.

    I don't know very much at all about e-publishing so perhaps someone can answer this next question. Is it possible that people who aren't checking properly might assume that the formatting is the same for both devices? 'It looks fine on the kindle, so it must be okay on the nook too'?

  5. I think it's relying on automated conversion and not bothering to check because the level of sales don't warrant it. It does seem quite short-sighted though.


  6. I have a nook, too, do I feel your pain.

  7. I think there are enough Nooks out there to warrant equal review and quality. Actually, anyone who pays money deserves the same quality even if the sales are less.

  8. That's odd. I found formatting for the nook easier than for the kindle. Not that my book was perfect, but still.

  9. Formatting for the nook is slightly different than Kindle. For example, The nook reads epub files, and epub files don't recognize page breaks. You have to use section breaks. It's just little things like that. A publisher has to not just upload to a particular format, but look at it once it's there.

    I have noticed the most formatting problems from small publishers, rather than Indies. It seems they just don't take the time. I have messaged authors about the formatting problems and they didn't even know because they thought the small press handled it correctly.

    I wanted to sell on Nook and tried. I gave away a lot of free copies of TransShifter. No sales of Vallar came from it. Not one. I also participated on their forum and a few other things. Only 2 sales in a 9 month period.

    Nook = 2
    Apple = 4
    Smashwords = 2
    Amazon = 200

    If Nook readers want independents to stay there, they might want to consider buying their books.

    So as a customer you may feel one way. As an author, you might change your mind.

  10. I don't have a Nook so I have no idea how the formatting through Smashwords looks on it.

    I use my Discover card points for Amazon gift cards, usually MP3 gift cards so I can buy more music. So we'll just cancel each other out. Bwahahahahahaha.

  11. BTW, my post today is about editing with my Kindle. So there.

  12. So true. If you expect people to pay for your book, you should go through the trouble of making it work right, otherwise why have it out in a specific format anyway?

    It really annoys me when people don't follow the above line of reasoning.

  13. I think formatting is one of the things about publishing that I worry about the most. Because if it doesn't look good, then it'll affect how people will read the book.

    I've seen minor formatting problems from publishers (including the Big Six) on my Kindle, but nothing quite how you're describing. It's unacceptable.

  14. I get turned off by typos in books, so if I ran into those kinds of formatting issues while reading I can just about guarantee I'd never bother finishing it or buy more.

    Just got a Kindle for Christmas. I've read three books on it and only the one by a big six publisher didn't have any typos in it.

  15. I do know that Nook is in trouble because they are just not selling e-books. I can't access specific figures without contacting my publisher, but I do know that one of my books I sold a significant amount more on Amazon than anywhere else. The only number I recall, because it was strange to me, was that I sold 4 copies on Sony e-reader and none on Nook. Amazon was WAY more. Now, with B&N looking to sell the e-book version of their company maybe things will change.

  16. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I remember reading something about B&N axing the Nook in a foreseeable future because it's not making its money.

    The big upside Kindle has is a platform for authors who are also voracious readers by default. Really, Amazon has dragged this war into Indie Publishing and nobody seems to understand that. When marketing a product, you can't offer just an alternative. You have to offer a better a far better product.

  17. I'm a huge B&N fan as well and even though I don't have a Nook (yet), I have the app on my phone for those days when I have a few minutes to read. Hubby just got a Kindle Fire and I've noticed that the formatting on some of the books is a little weird on that too. Maybe it's just laziness on the person in charge of layouts?

    Also, I have a question for you about your Nook. Have you uploaded any of your manuscripts on it to read and take notes on?

  18. I personally own a Kindle but my significant other has a Nook color and he loves it. He mostly reads computer programming books which I never read so I can't really speak to the formatting or anything.

    I love Barnes and Noble too but the closest one to me is a two hour drive away.

    Love the anti-motivation poster, by the way.

  19. @Cassie: Do you own any e-reader? iPad maybe?

    @Ted: I agree.

    @T.D.: I agree. The emoticons are funny.

    @Sarah: Yeah it's a B&N thing. They created the Nook to save their business.

    @Moody: exactly.

    @Miranda: I know, right?

    @Brinda: I agree. But I'm a socialist. I think everything and everyone should be treated the same.

    @Rusty: I think it's more laziness. People just don't care when it comes to the Nook.

    @Cindy: Your technical expertise is formidable. I bought both of your books via Amazon Kindle and not Nook.

    @Grumpy: How apropos

    @Misha: I agree.

    @Cherie: Yep

    @L.G.: The book I was reading happened to be quite good so it was worth trying to figure out.

    @Ciara: The article that I just read said that Nook is the only profitable part of Barnes and Noble. B&N is thinking of selling it off because of this to generate money for their sinking print business.

    @Ben: They are thinking of selling the Nook division off because it is profitable and therefore attractive to sellers.

    @Alicia: I don't upload and take notes on the nook. I do do that on the iPad.

  20. i also read that Barnes and Noble is chucking the Nook because it isn't making them enough money. That's too bad. It's a crazy, competitive world out there in e-readers!

  21. I just sent a message to someone there about your problem since I have e-mail contacts there. They've always claimed to have really excellent formatting so hopefully they will at least look into whatever is happening. I'll let you know if I hear anything back.

  22. You make quite a few excellent points. I'm new to e-reading and haven't had any problems yet.

  23. I haven't formatted any of my books for the Nook; I don't even know if they get on there at all. I publish them through Kindle and CreateSpace, so if they end up on the Nook it's because someone else put them there.

    Can you buy an Amazon Kindle book on the Nook? If so, I should figure out how the formatting works and publish it to the Nook specifically because I don't want to incur the Wrath of Michael Offutt, Noonien Singh.

  24. I have a Kindle, but MOST of my friends own the Nook; so when I get to the point that I'm ready to put my book out there - i will be DAMN sure to have it perfect for download on either device! My mom was complaining about this same issue not even three days ago, I feel your pain because she can't let it go and so is drivinge batty with her bitching. I hope these authors and publishers pull their heads out quickly!

  25. I don't own a Nook, but it is important to maintain consistency.

  26. ugh. That would piss me off. I once was reading a mass market, Robin Hobb's Fool's Errand, i think, and half way through, literally right at this super important mometnt of revelation, it changed to another book. There was some sort of printing error. I had to return it for a new copy. It was the worst timing, too.

  27. I own a Nook too. I love it. I have no idea we were being snubbed.

  28. I'm a huge fan of anything Barnes and Nobel. I have always enjoyed being a member of their book club and appreciate their stellar customer service. I would have no problem owning a Nook, and I don't understand the prejudice against it. Amazon should not be the end all be all.

  29. When I chose to self-publish one of my books, formatting was something that terrified me because I wanted to get it right. It took me days to format for the Kindle and to figure out how to properly format it for the Nook, but I put in all that effort because I wanted both of them to be right. I had to use Smashwords to get it anywhere else (Sony, etc.) and Smashwords sometimes does weird things to where they put breaks, which is why I manually did the formatting for Kindle and Nook.

    I'm not sure what the book my publisher put on Nook looks like, because I can't download it.

    I do think that if someone is paying for a book, the person should be able to read it properly.

  30. My kids own a "Nook" of their own( each). I do not like to criticize a lot of things that are heading towards technology. I do love to hold a book in my hand, a real book. So how about we can have a nook or a book according to our style - - - so yeah publishers should oblige nook readers as well.

  31. I've been planning to get my novel into B&N and thus onto their Nook. Now you've given me reason to hurry up and get that conversion done. Thanks.

  32. I have a Nook, too. I haven't seen the problems you've experienced so far. Ugh

  33. Amazon wants to rule the world. The Big 6 are fighting it (a losing battle, IMO). B&N is next. They see the Nook as their cash cow to save their fledgling paper sales.

    It is laziness. For sure. If 99% of your sales goes elsewhere, unfortunately, it's human nature to not put too much effort into making that 1% happy.

    Sad but true.

  34. I don't think it's -just- apathy. Formatting issues are huge, even when you do them right. There are a few issues in the new edition of my physical book that weren't there in the first edition. I had to upload the text 3 times to pdf to get it to stop having those boxes. After finally getting to where, by scanning, I can't find any errors, I have to say "it will have to work." I just don't have the time to sit and re-read the entire manuscript -every- time to catch those two or three places where there was some formatting glitch. When you have to re-format the document differently for -every- device you want to make it available for, there just isn't time for the small guys to fine tooth it for each one. Not for a full novel.

    So, yeah, my book is available on the Nook. I previewed it after I uploaded it and scanned through it. The first upload didn't take. It was all scrambled up, huge gaps, all that stuff, but the second one -looked- good. But I didn't read the whole thing.

    I'm at the point where I have to have someone point out to me any errors they catch, so I can fix them. The couple of people that read mine on the Nook didn't report anything to me, so I just have to assume it's okay. Like I said, it's a matter of time not apathy.

    I can't speak for anyone else, though.

  35. I only have an iPad, so I have no idea. I've downloaded a few Kindle books with the app, but confess, I've never downloaded a Nook book. Don't even know what my own book looks like on the Nook.
    My parents have the Nook tablet, so I'll have to ask them about book formatting issues and if they've ever noticed.
    I think my final answer tonight is have no idea!

  36. Good to know. Thanks for sharing. I have a kindle, but feel a little dirty for having it after reading your pros for not. ;( shower time...

  37. *Raises hand* Nook Color here. Love it to a fault. I agree with everything you've said and I'll add one more aggressor...authors who want my support but only if I have a Kindle. They don't want to bother offering their e-book anywhere but Amazon, and as we all known Amazon doesn't exactly format their e-books to be read on any other e-reader. (Hugs)Indigo

  38. Actually, as a book designer for a small e-publisher, there is a logical reason why there are often problems with the Barnes and Noble books. Barnes and Noble makes it difficult for e-publishers to sell their books through the BN store. You are only allowed to directly send EPUBs to them if you have at least two print books for sale as well. If you are exclusively an e-publisher, that excludes you. The only method we have of getting books into the BN store is to go through Smashwords. And Smashwords doesn't allow us to submit properly formatted EPUBs to them. They only allow us to submit Word documents that THEY convert to EPUBs. This means that the final appearance of the product is largely out of our hands. I do not like this at all, as a designer, but I don't have a choice.

  39. You go Michael! I appreciate your support of BnN and I agree with you about the attitude of people about the Kindle. There are plenty of problems with the Kindle that people do not want to address but I won't go into that now.

  40. We want to release our books on all formats, but as I stare down thee barrel of formatting our first book, it terrifies me that we could end up with formatting issues. I think it's really important authors retread their books on All formats ato make sure nothing's screwed up.

    I've heard lots of good about the nook, so good for you!

  41. Sorry for the typos (all that talk about proofing!) I'm on my iPad and it's moody about letting me move the cursor to delete... :(

    Still learning how to use it!

  42. Amen, brother! I haven't published anything, but if I ever did I would be fanatical about the formatting on EVERY possible reader. I'm just like that. I'm the opposite of apathetic, to the point of being rather obsessive!

  43. I've read some books on my Kindle that were formatted badly and really wanted to give up on the novels. Sadly yes, it is inde-pubbed and small print press that don't take the necessary time to properly format for e-readers.

    Totally discouraging.


  44. hey Michael, would you mind sending me the name of the book? The Musa people are trying to track down the problem so they can fix it. They also want to know if you got it off the Musa site or from another retailer. Thanks! :)

  45. I have a nook, too. Sometimes, I'm afraid I got the Betamax in this fight.

  46. That's so sad! I don't have an ereader yet, but I get bothered too by authors that offer Kindle-only deals. Give me my Smashwords pdf copy! And none of this ePub business either. I'm still printing to read, so sue me :-)

  47. I went to a lot of trouble to make sure my formatting looked good on everything. I've also gone in and cleaned up anything people have pointed out. I also pulled my stuff off Smashwords because it does horrible things to the formatting once it comes out their meatgrinder.

    That said, B&N has made some very stupid business decisions the last little while and I pulled my book off for a few months to experiment with KDP Select. I'll put it back for a month or so in April and then pull it again. Sorry. It just makes too much sense to play in Amazon's sandbox for now. I understand your frustration though. Authors and publishers should take pride in their product no matter where it is.

  48. Also, after reading many of the comments above, if you are using a word doc or a pdf to convert directly into whatever format the device uses you are doing it wrong and asking for problems. You need an html base to convert everything properly. I suggest reading Guido Henkel's guide.

    Or my own that I just started, but will be filled in with great detail over the next two months.

  49. tons of people own nooks! thats terrible! lazy! and definitely apathetic!

    what a shame. what can you do?

  50. Lucky you to have the Nook color, that is the readers that I so badly wanted. But the boyfriend was a stingy butt and would only pay the $139 for the Kindle. I have read a ton of books on my Kindle and have yet to come across a formatting problem. Sure there are lots and lots of editing mistakes, but so far no formatting. Not that I won't ever find any, I have over 400 titles now and I sure there will be some along the way.

    You do make a very valid point though. No one should pay for a book if it's messed up. Even if it's a freebie, I have gotten a freebie here and there and then go on to purchase other books by the same author. But would not do that if the editing was off. Anyways, I would love to get a Nook color later in the future, right now I am drooling over the Nook Tablet too!