Barnes & Noble Nook Sales Slow?

Sorry for complaining, but are other Indie authors selling a tiny percentage of ebooks at Barnes & Noble compared to Amazon Kindle?

When Pubit, Barnes & Noble’s self-publishing platform, first came out it was exciting. My books were already for sale there via Smashwords, but it appeared Pubit might be a better way to go direct.

I began keeping stats in 2011, and from January through April my Amazon Kindle sales outnumbered sales for Barnes & Noble (Nook) by a 6 to 1 ratio. That was a number I could live with, knowing Amazon is the king of selling ebooks and B & N has always been playing catch-up. Since then, from May 2011 through March 2012, my Barnes & Noble sales have plummeted to a ratio of 1 Nook sale for every 39 Kindle sales. Yikes, seriously not good. Almost 7 times worse than the results before.

And I was one of the authors who resisted KDP Select, Amazon’s exclusive 90-day Kindle promotion program, because of not wanting to pull ebooks from other retailer’s shelves (and also ’cause the exclusive thing rubs me a little wrong). When KDP Select came out in December 2011, I figured the B & N sales would hopefully rise since so many Indies bailed from Nook shelves. But that was another wrong assumption.

So what’s up here? It’s not like I only advertise for Amazon. The links to every major retailer are clearly visible on my sites. Since the Kindle and Nook forums are largely avoided by me, this has turned into something of a head-scratcher. Also of notice, my B & N sales via Smashwords are far better than the same Nook book selling directly via Pubit. Starting to wonder if Barnes & Noble is slowly dying? Maybe. Maybe another wrong assumption.

What about other authors–what are your experiences? Inquiring minds would love to know.

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14 Responses to “Barnes & Noble Nook Sales Slow?”

  1. Catana Says:

    i started out publishing directly with Pubit, but it took months to accumulate enough money to get paid (for three books), so I pulled them and let Smashwords handle it. A sale is a sale, if and when it ever happens, but it’s not worth it to go to the trouble of maintaining an account there, and having to go through the uploading process. Of course, my Smashwords sales have also fallen through the floor lately. If it wasnt for Amazon, I wouldn’t be making any money at all. I’m thinking about puttin my next novel on Select to see what happens. After that, I’ll add it to Smashwords. Up till now, it’s been the other way around — Smashwords first, then KDP.

  2. T.D.Rizor Says:

    Very interesting, Jason. Just yesterday I put the finishing touches on the ePub version of my book and was preparing to publish wide across Amazon, B&N, and Smashwords TOMORROW. I’m with you on the exclusivity of KDP Select rubbing me the wrong way, too, but your numbers are making me reconsider.
    Maybe the pros outweigh the cons of the KDP Select program… or maybe that’s a wrong assumption, too. Dunno.
    Thanks for your very helpful posts.

  3. Cliff Ball Says:

    I’m actually selling more on BN now than on Amazon, and I don’t know why. I tried KDP Select for one of my novels when Select was first introduced, but the sales tanked for that novel on Amazon. When I put it back on BN (and other sites), I had immediate sales. Personally, I think Select is over-rated.

    • Jason Matthews Says:

      Really good to hear, Cliff. Any guesses as to why sales took off better with B & N for you?

      • Cliff Ball Says:

        I honestly don’t know, and if I did know, I would keep doing it! The best guess I could offer, is that there are fewer indie books on B&N now because of the books being exclusive to Amazon, so maybe I have better visibility, but I really have no idea.

    • Catana Says:

      I read success stories for both sites and failure stories for both sites. It would be wonderful if someone could figure out the difference. The answer probably isn’t 42.

  4. barndog1946 Says:

    Jason, I have two books at both Amazon and B&N. The B&N is via Smashwords. Amazon outsells B&N by 3:1. From the books at Smashwords Apple outsells B&N 2:1. Sales for me are about flat last year and so far this year. But as you are aware I am very new at this. Next month it will be one year since I started. Yes, I have another two books in KDP select. I tried that because those were new releases and I wanted to test the waters. For those two I average combined 30 sales and 6 borrows over the first quarter. I am thinking to pull out of KDP Select next month and put those two up on Smashwords to compare. Time will tell, the jury is still out.

    • Jason Matthews Says:

      I like your approach of testing the waters with KDP Select, Barney. This industry is all about trying many things–sticking with what works and moving on from what doesn’t. If I had a new title coming out, I’d be testing the waters too.

  5. Debbie Says:

    What B&N sales? 🙂 I think I’ve sold about 3 books there in 6 months. But I do wonder how quick the actual site is to do anything – I publish there via smashwords and I decided to pull all my books from extended distribution six weeks ago now (I’m using another distributor now than can access more outlets than smashwords). My smashwords books are still up there not selling…

  6. Sonia Marsh (@GutsyLiving) Says:

    Interesting to read everyone’s comments since I need to decide what to do soon. I’ve been told by a couple of book shepherds to use KDP select. Since most people leave book reviews on Amazon, since Amazon sells every product from shampoo to electronics, could this perhaps explain why more purchases are on Amazon. I know I’ve only purchased e-books from Amazon, mainly because of the ease of my account being linked to everything on Amazon, and the Kindle app on my tablet. I don’t own an i-Phone, or an i-Pad, so perhaps I’m being ignorant here, but please explain whether downloading a book from Amazon on an i-Pad, is a different price than from the i-Store? I have no clue about that.

    • Jason Matthews Says:

      Hi Sonia. It’s not a different price buying an ebook from Apple than from Amazon, or not for long. Amazon has a low match guarantee so buyers would alert them if they found the book cheaper elsewhere. Also, many iPad owners have the Kindle app too and buy from Amazon. It’s the one retailer that people who own any type of device still buy from, and Kindle owners buy exclusively from them. KDP Select is not a bad choice–for me I just don’t like the “exclusive” nature of it.

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