Tuesday, June 14, 2011

B&N Must Hate Indie Authors! Or are they just out of touch?

I want to start this off by saying that I have no proof of what I am about to say. I am getting this from other authors, bloggers and... well, I guess that is proof. But the giant B&N have been silent, (Shocker) on the subject. This is yet another example of why I believe that B&N hate Indie authors, or... they have a bunch of out of touch old people working for them. Sorry old people.

The Passive Voice Blog
did a story on this last week and others have as well. Here is the deal as I can break it down for my own little brain.

"It looks like Barnes & Noble may be “managing” the Nook bestseller list to make certain worthy (and higher-priced) ebooks do well. Nobody under $3.00 is in the top 125." -The Passive Voice

What does this mean?

Well, this means that because of pressure from the BIG 6 to force the Indie authors out they want more of the top 100 list. So higher priced books will be first on the list and this forces the low priced eBooks down and shoves the books under them even lower in the rankings.

So I ask you, how is this ranking system a real ranking system? I mean is it on sales (unite sold) or not? Why should it matter how much the book sold for? If a mass market paperback sells 100k and the hardback only does 50k, the mass market out sold the hardback. So what! It is books sold, who cares how it sold or for how much.

Next, why? I understand they want the top 100 list to be filled with books by well known bestsellers, but really? Are you that lame that you have to have Dean Koontz and James Patterson on your main page, and push out the other hard working Indie authors?

B&N has a bad rap and has had one for years of being "Too good" for Indie authors. They are hard to sell into the stores and now with eBooks they have a platform and website that seems to be built by someone who has no clue how to sell books. The site is hard to navigate, searching books is difficult, there is no tagging system, no good way to find new authors and link them to other authors to make a connection. In all their website is just like their store. You walk in and only see the NYT bestsellers and everyone else is hidden.

If you think I am being to hard I will let the sales numbers prove what I am saying. Last month I sold about 4,000 eBooks on amazon. guess how many I sold on B&N? Come on... take a swing... 100. Yup, 100. This is not just me, most authors will tell you that in pure sales B&N is way behind, almost not even worth being on their site.

Why is it that they claim to have more eBooks than Amazon and the biggest and best bookstore in the world, but can't sell eBooks and lag so far behind it is almost funny?

Want more? The Color Nook! Strike two! I mean come on, they spend the money and time to join the tablet wars with a sub par device and fight Apple, when they are in a long battle with Amazon. What is that? So why would we want to read a book on a LCD screen? Why not spend that same time and money on R&D into Color eInk? To make a color ink on the same screen as the Kindle and Nook? This is one more example of how out of touch they are.

My thoughts are this: B&N if they don't stop the Hate, have a new website created with tags and help promote Indie authors and come out with a good eReader, they will be the next Blockbuster. Amazon is on the verge of taking over the book world and if they do I will be happy on one side and scared on the other. This is not the time to join the tablet wars, this is the time to step up and take back some of the book market.

Do what you will, think what you like, and I'll do the same. Cheers


  1. There is no difference between the kindle and the nook as an e-reader. They all can do the same things and all get the same free books. I can vouch for that as someone who looks for and points out deals. I have a nook color and it's not that bad either. Amazon has way more money than BN because they're into other projects and you have to ask yourself why haven't THEY invested in color ink yet?

    Also yes I think it's wrong that BN doesn't take time to market their indie authors the way they should but that doesn't mean they ignore them completely. Jon Merz was featured twice and he's sold thousands of books. Joshua Graham the same deal just by promoting his books and having a handful of people read them and say how great they are. I've seen Nancy Johnson's Her Last Letter promoted too and I asked her to add that book via pub it because it wasn't available for us to even read.

    I've seen plenty of indie authors and books under 5 dollars promoted. They have a section for them out there in the open. A lot of us browse them every day. Only way I heard about you Aaron was through Vincent and the only way I know you have a new book out is because I'm your friend on Facebook. Maybe you should go over to the nook wall and promote your work. If you have been, I haven't seen you and you know how I'm ALWAYS on facebook LOL.

    Anyway just sayin. I don't mean for this to sound heated or anything if it does. Right now I know I'm kinda neglecting the deals part of my site or your books would be there. I just can't keep up with it all right now with my dad being sick. I feel really bad about it because I do want to help you guys out :(

  2. I am not asking them to promote the Indie authors, just not push them down by giving them a lower sales ranking because they are under 3 bucks. It hurts in the long run as well as being unfair to the true numbers. If they sold 100 books they should get credit no matter the price in the ranking.

  3. Barnes and Nobles sells E-Books???
    Ha...I have no idea how many e-books I've sold there this month, but I can guess whatever I've sold won't even buy me a prime rib dinner. Like you AP I'll sell maybe 4 or 5K Kindles this month, and with those earnings I can make a nice living and go out to eat everynight if I so choose. And this is a slow month!!!!! :)

  4. Indie authors have had a rough time, even before the introduction of websites and the eBook explosion. Even in the print only days of the not too distant past, the NYT Bestsellers filled the window display and were at the front of the store while smaller books languished spine out on some shelf you needed to climb on your hands and knees to look at.

    I see it as B&N operating business as usual, just like your picture at the top. They are doing it the way they have always done it in the "real" world, and that is how they will do it in cyberspace.

    Ultimately it's up to the readers to decide if they are willing to accept what happens in the brick and mortars to also take place online.

    Only time will tell.

    Steve DW

  5. Very interesting, Aaron. I've noticed that they've removed the sales rank numbers that used to be next the the titles on their website.

    All I can say is three words: Location, Location, Location. When my book ONCE WE WERE KINGS (under my pen name Ian Alexander) debuted last month it was instantly on the bestseller list in the top 20, and therefore featured on the front page of the genre (SF/Fantasy). As long as it stayed there it sold huge numbers of copies on BN. But then things changed on the website, they took away the bestseller ranking numbers and my title slipped off the front page and the sales numbers began to decline as well.

    Not sure what is going on with BN, and I'm not going to venture to motive. But the facts are that the books that are featured on the front page of the genre will definitely get more attention. Indie authors are going to have to work really hard to promote their books so they can reach the top 20 if they want to make a dent.

  6. Yeah, I was wondering how you were doing Joshua, as you seem to do really well over on B&N. But like you said, it is so much about placement, and just being out there helps so much.

  7. I can regularly count my sales on B&N with no hands! I've had a few sales from some of my more hardcore fans who want to support by buying on multiple platforms, but my sales basically come from Amazon.

    Also, I am incredibly sad you switched to white text on a black background because it is almost impossible for me to read (eye strain), so I may have to stop reading your blog :(

    YA: Cheat, Liar, Coward
    Adult: Shackled

  8. I think you should stick to writing. Posting anything to bash a bookstore is just stupid. I think B&N is the best bookstore out there and would not do anything to hurt readers or authors. Maybe you are just butt hurt because they rejected you or something. Stop bashing books and as for me I hate ebooks, they dumb down reading and makes people who like to read REAL books look old and out of date. The only thing ebooks do is let hacks publish their crap!

  9. Rick,
    Get, let me guess...you have been trying to publish with the biggies for years and years????

  10. Barnes & Noble is a bookseller and they are running their model the way they see fit. They want to make money. I can't see it lasting though. They are already so far behind in market share that I have a difficult time believing they'll ever catch up to Amazon and the Kindle. Let small minds, stay small minded.

    I think Apple is going to get competitive soon, and in 15 years we'll talk about that archaic company called Barnes & Noble that demonstrated how to fail with flair in the book selling industry.

  11. When I think ebook/digital I think Amazon, when I think paper I still usually think Amazon, unless I want the book right away, then I think B&N. This makes me curious if the big discrepancy between books sold on Amazon vs. B&N has more to do with the number of books sold on each site. I have no idea, but maybe B&N just doesn't sell many ebook compared to Amazon. Seems like I have heard a few authors say the same thing about digital books sold at each store (the big seller is always Amazon with B&N selling at most about 10% of the Amazon numbers). Anybody know how to find out?

  12. Ethan, there are a number of blogs that follow the trends. Here is the latest post from one of my favorites :)


    YA: Cheat, Liar, Coward, Thief (6-22)
    Adult: Shackled

  13. @J.E. Medrick, Thanks! I was searching in vain for the past half-hour.

  14. I'm indie and #35 on Nook overall right now at $2.99 with Area 51. I've actually talked to human beings at PubIt who've asked me how they can help me sell books. I releasing an original title exclusive to Nook for 30 days on the 31st of August. So perhaps things have changed a bit there?

  15. Bob,
    Yes, I was looking at them the other day and it seems that they are not blacklisting indie authors or they made the price .99 as the "no fly zone." Also I am glad you made the leap to doing some out of the box stuff, you seem like a sharp guy. But to be fair you have a huge fan base as well as millions of books in print. Making a top list is a little easier for you on B&N. To see a "Who is that?" author on any bestseller list on B&N is very rare and almost unheard-of. But because of the way they market their books they wont have break-away bestsellers like Amazon does.

    I would love to talk to a real person down at B&N, I talk to Amazon about once a month and to have any interaction with B&N would be great. But I still believe that if you are a new author and don't have a fan base built Amazon is the place to sell and build where as it stands B&N is just not set up to make that happen. Gratz on all you are doing... would love to chat with you more.


  16. Aaron, I actually heard of you (and bought your first novel) about a week ago, going through some of Konrath's old stuff. Think he had you on as a guest or something. Word of mouth does indeed sell books. I understand that a bookseller has to sell books, and they are going to try and promote "guaranteed" sales for them, but still, the way they are going about it seems like it's kowtowing to the big six instead of letting books rise or fall on their own merits.

    Drew Merten