PubIt!: Barnes & Noble Plays Catch-up with Amazon’s KDP

At the DFW Writer’s Conference in February 2011, I attended a presentation on Barnes & Noble’s relatively new PubIt! system. PubIt! (yes, the exclamation point is necessary) is Barnes & Noble’s answer to Amazon’s Kindle Digital Publishing (KDP) system, an interface that allows authors and small publishers to publish eBook directly to Amazon.com for the Kindle. Now users can publish eBook directly to the B&N Nook via PubIt! without going through an eBook middle man like Smashwords.

The PubIt! interface is very user-friendly and self explanatory as one navigates through it. Users get a straight 65% royalty on sales of eBooks priced between $2.99 and $9.99, a little less than Amazon.com’s option of 70%, but not unreasonably so. Books priced below or above those figures earn a straight 40% royalty, a little more than Amazon.com’s 35% option, but not significantly so.

So, for an eBook priced at $2.99, the author will get $1.94 via PubIt! If they publish through Smashwords at the same price, the author gets $1.79 per eBook sold for the NOOK. One, of course, should still publish through Smashwords for all their other distribution, like Sony, Diesel, Kobo, and most importantly Apple’s iBookstore. Just choose to omit Barnes & Noble at Smashwords to publish through PubIt! Get that extra $0.15 per book.

Personally, I think this is great, and it’s about time. Barnes & Noble launched PubIt! back in October 2010, but the first I heard of it was at the Writer’s Conference in February. Perhaps this is because I have ceased to pay attention to Barnes & Noble online. When deciding whether to get a Kindle or a Nook as an eReader (another thing B&N had to scramble to catch up to Amazon.com), the choice for a Kindle was a no-brainer. They were relatively the same price, and sure, the Nook had a fancy color strip at the bottom (this was before the full color Nook), but when I looked at the pricing of eBooks on the two sites, Barnes & Noble’s eBook pricing was almost always higher. In fact, most of their books are priced higher than Amazon.com.

The choice was clearly a Kindle, and I love it.

Barnes & Noble, after all, is a brick-and-mortar book store, and they have held on tight to that image until very recently. When I venture out to a book store, it’s almost always to a Barnes & Noble. I worked for Barnes & Noble in grad school. We’ve signed books at countless Barnes & Nobles across the country, and they’ve been rather good to us. They would usually give us a free Starbucks to enjoy during our book signing, so what’s not to love?

The B&N representative at the conference acted as if B&N came up with this idea all on their very own. The presenter took us step-by-step through the set up process, bashing Amazon whenever he possibly could. But never once did he admit that Amazon has been doing this for a few years, and ultimately does it better. After all, it’s all Amazon does. They’re not trying to maintain hundreds of huge book superstores across the country, dozens of warehouses, a streamlined online presence, all while staying on the cutting edge of the rapidly changing technology.

Still, B&N is trying to catch up, and I commend them for that. But they have a long way to go.

As an independent author over the past few years, I’ve become increasingly disenchanted with Barnes & Noble, especially online. Until this latest push with PubIt!, they have not been friendly to the little guy. Certainly not in comparison with Amazon.com. Amazon not only welcomes authors and other small businesses to deal directly through Amazon.com, with their KDP (and now CreateSpace), Seller Accounts, and Amazon Advantage, they also offer authors their own page (Author Central), complete with bios, RSS feeds from their blog, and detailed sales information from BookScan.

Barnes & Noble does none of that.

To top it all off, Amazon has their amazing and easy-to-use Associates Affiliate program, where anyone can make a few pennies off Amazon purchases through a special, easily integrated associates code.

Let me tell you, those pennies add up.

Barnes & Noble has an affiliate program, too; but it is so complicated (and requiring a different site with different log-in credentials) that it’s not worth the effort, especially since so many more people shop at Amazon.com.

Although my first choice in brick-and-mortar book stores is still Barnes & Noble (even before Borders’ bankruptcy), my online allegiance remains with Amazon. com. They have the best selection, the best prices, and they love authors.

Kudos to Barnes & Noble for entering into the 21st century of book buyers. I hope they continue to evolve with the marketplace. They’ll need to if they don’t want to follow Borders.

(This article first appeared on the Best Damn Creative Writing Blog on April 11, 2011.)

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Thoughts? Do you shop more at Barnes & Noble online (or in person) or do you shop at Amazon.com? What factors do you consider when choosing?

5 Comments Add yours

  1. PubIt! is open to everyone in the world…who has a US address and associated credit card. If you don’t (and it’s particularly difficult to get in a post-9/11 world), you’re locked out and have to rely on Smashwords to get your book on the B&N site.

    1. christinerose says:

      Very interesting, Kaz. I didn’t know that! In some ways I almost prefer Smashwords, actually. Thank you for the information and comment. x

  2. Brian says:

    Didn’t B&N just announce they would cease selling anything that is on Kindle yesterday or something.

    1. christinerose says:

      Really?! I hadn’t seen that. Thanks! I’ll look it up.

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