Most Indie authors sell ebooks at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, as well as the other major retailers like Apple, Sony and Kobo. What’s noteworthy, one venue will often result in far better sales than the other. Why? Not sure, but many authors talk about this discrepancy and it’s true for my books; they do far better at Amazon. For example, How to Make, Market and Sell Ebooks All for Free sold over 60 times as many copies in July of 2011 at Amazon than it did at Barnes & Noble. It’s also currently gathered 49 reviews at Amazon and only 1 at Barnes & Noble. Other authors have just the opposite results: far more sales at B & N. Again it’s easy to ask, why?
Perhaps the book sales get rolling at one venue and snowballs from there. Readers buy it, share it with others and write reviews while browsers see higher sales ranking/reviews to feel more secure in a purchase. And thus the cycle begins. This is just a theory. The main problem with it is that readers tend to talk about good books with others who own all kinds of devices.
Another idea that comes to mind are the forums. Both venues have dedicated meeting grounds for readers and authors. Amazon has dozens, including the main Kindle Forum and the Meet Our Authors, designed for Indie promotion. Barnes & Noble has the umbrella name of Nookboards and many sub-forums within, which (in my opinion) is less familiar to most authors but fast becoming an important one to know.
How can forums help?
Many independent writers spend a fair amount of time using social media to network, promote and simply get the word out. This includes forums, especially Amazon Kindle forums, since Amazon currently sells more ebooks than any other retailer and since there are typically many readers frequenting it. But to sell ebooks successfully, an author should make use of every means possible. As my example shows, it’s not enough to just have a book listed at Barnes & Noble. To really get the sales ball rolling, some forum presence is probably required, which will also spread my time in cyberspace a bit thinner.
A few years ago it seemed like B & N was completely lagging in the ebook arena and with Indie authors. (The latter may still be true.) Because B & N has done such a great job improving the Nook with color and touch screen abilities, sales have recently skyrocketed. Now might be the best time ever to get acquainted with Nookboards.
So what are the big differences and how can one make the most of Barnes & Noble forums?
At first glance the Kindle forum seems easier to navigate as the most current discussions constantly “bump” themselves to the top. Although there’s a common complaint: not having a handy list of all possible forums or feeling like you’re stumbling around in the dark while attempting to find the Politics forum, for example. It is nice that Nookboards labels most discussions by topic, where people can choose categories like what they’re reading, Nook accessories, or contests and freebies as opposed to the way Kindle forums handles this by basically lumping all of that into one main forum with subcategories for genre preferences.
There seems to be approximately 17 different forum thread topics. Most of these just have a few new posts each day. For example, the Author Nook thread is the place for Nook authors to talk about and promote their ebooks. Granted, the number of participants is far fewer than at Amazon. This Nook thread had 7 posts so far for the day when checked at 10am PST. The comparable thread at Amazon, the Meet Our Authors forum, had 75 posts by the same time.
The differences between Amazon Kindle forum and Barnes & Noble Nookboards are large to put it mildly. When checking the stats at Nookboards today on the Who’s Online page, it mentioned 477 guests and 27 active (registered) users in the past 123 minutes. (Yes, 123 minutes seems like an odd amount to keep stats for.)
On the other hand at Amazon Kindle forums, while it doesn’t report stats, during the same 2 hour period there were well over 200 topics either posted or replied to, with many of these topics involving a dozen or more participants. This is a rough guess, but it appears the Kindle forums have around five to ten times the number of users, which explains why Indie authors probably prefer it. But due to recent Nook sales, Nookboards might be getting ripe to establish an author presence.
Some cool things you can do at Nookboards but not at Kindle forums:
- You can embed files and upload avatars, even animated avatars (cool).
- You can also embed photos and videos to forum posts. (Due to these extras, Nookboard administrators must be more active checking in with potential abuses.)
- You can choose not to see other people’s animated avatars and signatures. (Amazon has an ignore button, but it’s hardly the same thing.)
- You can add active hyperlinks to posts.
My experience on Nookboards is extremely limited, would love to hear any comments from regulars. The main point is this; if your ebook sales are much slower at Barnes & Noble than Amazon, you might want to get more active with Nookboards, getting to know the people who buy from B & N and read on their devices.
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