Ebooks and Ereaders

Barnes and Noble death rattle?

I had a bunch of articles build up in my RSS feeds while I was away at Fiddle Tunes, but I’ve been working on getting caught up–and today on Dear Author, I see this post that reports, among other things, that B&N is pulling out of trying to sell ebooks in international markets. They’ll be pulling back to US and UK only.

The Digital Reader reports that B&N had expanded into international markets through Windows 8, and that now they’re pulling back on that. Sales will continue only in the US and UK markets.

Except that apparently B&N launched an updated Nook site that is significantly broken. The Digital Reader reported on this on the 2nd, detailing several very worrisome ways that the new Nook site is very badly broken.

And now, as of tonight when I tried to get at my Nook account data, I couldn’t even log in in Safari. When I tried to click on the “Sign In” link in the upper left hand corner of the revamped site, the page grayed out. What I THINK tried to happen here is that they probably tried to load a sign-in overlay, and that overlay is not loading. I’m about to check this out on other browsers to see where else it might repro. Given their track record of stupid problems on their website, though, I’ll lay you even money that it’ll work on Windows browsers and not on Mac ones. LET’S FIND OUT, said the web page tester.

If you’re a Nook customer, what this tells me is that if you haven’t already, you’d damn well better try to make backup copies of all your purchases with them as soon as you can. If you’re a Mac user, the Nook desktop Mac app still works in Yosemite–I haven’t gotten rid of my copy yet, though I’m only using it for purposes of downloading purchases, since, annoyingly, they’d already also removed the ability to download your purchases from the website.

And if you’re an indie author, be keeping a sharp eye on this and what it may mean for your sales on the Nook platform.

I gotta say, at this point I wouldn’t object very hard if B&N sold its customer base to Kobo. Sony apparently already did that when they pulled out of the ebook market. And I wouldn’t mind condensing the two biggest parts of my fractured ebook library.

But dammit, B&N, why’d you have to go and screw this up so badly? I so wanted you to hang in there.

ETA: I have just now confirmed that I cannot log into my B&N account on any browser except Internet Explorer on Windows. This is pathetic. I’m offended not only as a Nook customer, but also as a QA professional who tests web pages for a living. I mean honestly, who okays “inability to log into customer accounts on most of the major current web browsers” as an acceptable bug to push out to your production site?! Furthermore, the Digital Reader’s report on the site launch was a week ago. If this bug has been in production on the site for a full week, somebody on their engineering team needs to be fired.

FWIW, at least, Dara’s mucking around a bit and has discovered that if you are on Safari on the Mac and you have the Developer menu turned on, you can set your User Agent to pretend to be IE 8 or IE 9 and get it to work. I have confirmed this on my own laptop. So there’s a workaround for Mac users, at least.

ETA #2: I’m getting told by a few friends across the Net tonight that they can confirm ability to log in on non-IE browsers on Windows. But on the other hand, one fellow NIWA author reported that while she was able to log in via Chrome on Windows, she is reproducing the behavior I’m seeing on her laptop. I also note that at least twice when trying to hit the B&N index, I have triggered an error message in general rather than actually reaching the page. So just trying to hit the site at all appears to be chancy. And you may or may not be able to log in from the Sign In link.

Additionally, once I was actually able to log in on IE and get to my Nook library, I was able to confirm what the Digital Reader reported. You can do fuck all with any of the books in your library except archive or delete them. You can’t read them. You can’t download them. GoodEreader.com reports that B&N has been getting swarms of angry customer feedback about how you can’t even get at your past purchases, but I hadn’t realized there was an inability to get at samples either. Which, yeah. I can add a sample to my library via the website, but since I can’t actually read it on the site, that’s kinda useless, at least if I don’t actually happen to have my device with me.

I specifically have to jump over to my actual physical Nook to read the thing. I can at least confirm that a sample added to my library is downloadable and readable on the actual device, so that’s something.

ETA #3: Checking this morning, I’m finding I am able to log in via Safari on the B&N site. For now.

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