Many years ago, I purchased my first E-Reader. It was made by Sony, it supported almost every type of e-book file format imaginable (at the time). It did not have a built in store, hell – it didn’t even have built in Wi-Fi!
For more than a year, when using it – people who noticed it would ask “What is it?”
Then Amazon launched the Kindle in America. Slowly the question people would ask shifted to “Is that a Kindle?”. Now, this demonstrated that Sony really should have marketed and improved their offering sooner (They didn’t and that’s why nobody buys Sony E-Readers anymore)!
Eventually Amazon expanded & launched the Kindle in the UK. At the time I was hesitant to jump ship to Kindle for a variety of reasons, mainly that my e-book collection was mostly epubs and Amazon decided that wasn’t for them. So I plodded on with my Sony.
But alas, the Sony only had so much life in it (The built in rechargeable battery grew old and weak) and I had to start looking at a replacement. I again looked at the Kindle, but Amazon at the time was being a bit of a bully and not paying its taxes so I looked at my other options.
My other options at the time were Kobo and the new Nook which had just been announced as launching in the UK.
Both seemed ideal on paper, they both supported epub files, so I could easily import my books onto the new device and they weren’t Amazon!
I went out and found the Kobo devices on display in shops, but I wasn’t impressed – they seemed to feel cheap and flimsy compared to my old Sony. (Which was built out of metal)
I then found a Nook on display shortly thereafter and was a lot more impressed, It felt much more solid and although not made of metal, felt sturdy in my hands. I bought one immediately! A few weeks later I bought another one to replace my old one, mainly because the new one had a built in glow-light screen, but partly because my girlfriend wanted my old one!
Everything went smoothly more or less until early this year I needed a replacement device, the screen was getting nasty bright light spots when the glow light was being used and the battery was needing to be charged every other night! (It was also crashing/freezing a lot!) So I looked for a replacement.
Now, Tablets had come a long way in design and functionality over the last few years, so whilst I wouldn’t have considered a tablet 3 years ago, it was a better option now. I ended up buying a nice 8 inch Windows Tablet which could run a Nook reading app. It worked wonderfully.
Fast forward to the last few weeks: On August 8th I went to the Nook website and purchased 5 or 6 new books. On the 9th I opened up the app on my Tablet to sync and download those books. But before I could do any of this a Pop-Up notification appeared telling me that as of August 7th, The Windows Nook Reading App would no longer be supported outside the US.
Now this came as quite the surprise to me. I had not received any emails from Nook UK or Barnes and Noble giving any advance notice of this change. (I even checked my junk folder for any emails I might have missed – nothing). Because there had been no warning I initially thought it might be an error. Nook later responded to me via Twitter and advised me to change my payment options, sign out and back in. I did this – and then couldn’t sign back in at all!
Because B&N decided to pull the plug on the Windows App outside the US, I could not sync any new content into the app. This means that the books I just bought could not be read. What’s more, since following their instructions I can no longer read any of my old Nook books!*
So what are the consequences for me now that B&N have pulled the plug without giving me any notice? Well, Now I can’t read any of the books I’ve purchased over the years through Nook. Nook don’t let you download those books for use outside their app or dedicated devices!
Nook/B&N have advised me that I can still read them through the Reading apps on iOS or Android – or even through a Nook E-Reader. The problem is that would require me buying yet another device!
Why Have Nook/B&N taken this decision? From what I can piece together the Nook reading app on Windows came about as part of a deal between Microsoft and B&N. That deal has ended/fallen apart. Therefore because Nook/B&N can no longer accept Microsoft Account payments, they have withdrawn support. As a result B&N have pulled out completely from every non-US market with the exception of the UK. They also have withdrawn support for the Windows App outside the US (Including the UK). B&N Still make the iOS and Android reading apps available in the UK. (All books to be purchased through their website) B&N are still supporting the Windows App in the US (according to their US Tweets, are improving the App for Windows 10).
Yes, that’s right They are still using the same app in the US. So the issue isn’t to do with App development costs, the costs are still being paid for the US market – and IT IS THE SAME APP!
If the reason they have withdrawn support from the UK is to do with not being able to accept Microsoft wallet payments through the apps built in store – It’s worth noting that the iOS app doesn’t have a store interface – iOS users must buy books through the website and then sync them onto their device. This is how I was buying my books anyway! Why can’t Nook/B&N just remove or block the store functionality from their app?
I don’t know!
What I DO know is that I’ve had enough. I’ve decided to accept and join the Kindle flock. I really want to use and support a rival service, because competition is good for the consumer. But B&N seem determined to let Amazon be the only game in town. Yes, I could still switch to Kobo. But I’ve been burned now. I don’t want to go through all of this again in a year or two if Kobo do the same.
So I’ve started to pick up books on Kindle when ever they drop below £2 or go on promotion OR I want to read a book immediately. It’s going to be expensive to replace the books I had on Nook, but unless B&N do a U-turn or sell off the ebook division to someone who actually cares/thinks – I can’t see a future on the platform.
Rest In Peace Nook. Long Live the KINDLE!
*Obviously I can still read any old epub books I bought elsewhere over the years using a different app.