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Nook Book Oops! December 11, 2012

Posted by Mrs. J in the Library in Ebooks, Nooks.
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I ran into an issue with Nook ebooks today, and I wanted to share in the hopes that it saves others a phone call and some valuable time being on hold.  I was ECSTATIC to find that the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” series was finally available on Nook, after seeing it available on Kindle for months and months.  It is by far the #1 most requested book/series for the Nook ereaders from students.  I purchased the 2 newest ones, #6 and 7 in the series, “Cabin Fever” and “The Third Wheel.”  I never even thought to check device compatibility.  As it turns out, “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” Nook Books are only downloadable to the Nook Color, Tablet, HD, and apps.  Not the lowly eInk Simple Touch.  Grrr!

If you happen to have Nook Simple Touch devices, here’s what you need to check before purchasing…(right click to see the full-size screenshot.)

wimpykidscreenshot

To be perfectly honest, I felt duped since the note about requiring a Nook Color or Tablet device isn’t emphasized.  Some Nook Books and apps specifically say that they are “enhanced” or “interactive” right next to the cover image which I think sends a slightly clearer (though still murky) message that they are for more tablet-like devices.  Instead, I found out by trial-and-error.  Not exactly great customer service.  Perhaps there should be a barrier to “stop sign” of some sort when you try to purchase an item for your account (not a gift) without a compatible device registered to your account.  It would be helpful.

In Barnes and Noble’s defense, I made a single 10-minute phone call to the 1-800-THE-BOOK help line, and the customer service representative was extremely helpful.  She refunded the books’ cost since she could see I hadn’t downloaded them, and the money is back on my gift card to purchase other titles.  So all’s well.

Just out of curiosity, though, I skipped over the Amazon to check if they offer the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” series on their eInk devices.  Yes, they do.  In fact, it’s compatible with all the Kindle devices.

This is one example of a thought that has been buzzing around my brain for awhile now.  In the competitive market of ebooks and ereader ecosystems, Amazon is still strongly winning, and Barnes and Noble doesn’t seem to be putting up much of a fight.  BN claims that the benefit to the Nook line is customer service in their stores, but I’ve found that employees aren’t given enough training, and most of the time, I know more than they do.  The phone service has been better, but that is equal with Amazon’s Kindle, so there isn’t really a benefit.  What could have been an excellent, compelling reason to buy a Nook (in-person customer service) has become more of a frustration.

On the other hand, I find many of Amazon’s business practices to be anti-consumer and anti-author (or to use Google’s once famous line about Microsoft, “evil”).  However, they are doing a lot right from a business and customer service standpoint.

Overall, I find it depressing that the main player in the ebook/digital shift revolution treats both its customers and content creators so terribly.  Not that publishers are blameless, mind you.  It’s just that if this is the way the book/written content business is going, it doesn’t say much for our reading and writing culture in the future.  And though I’m having second thoughts about purchasing Nooks instead of Kindles for our lending program, I still feel like it was the right choice given the market at the time.  Just some food for thought…

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