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Here Comes Barnes & Noble

November 11, 2014 by Tim

Brick and mortar giant Barnes and Noble has announced that they are now in the Print On Demand business.

While another player is a welcome addition to the Print On Demand (P.O.D.) options, there are several factors that suggest that this move will not exactly be a “game-changer.”

  1. No distribution. Unlike the CreateSpace and Lightning Source options, the Nook Print On Demand model does not include a built-in distribution mechanism. It is essentially a P.O.D. version of short run rather than anything approaching a comprehensive publishing solution.
  2. Pricing. While more affordable than some P.O.D. options, when it comes to per-book pricing, the Nook version isĀ  considerably more costly than Lightning Source and even a fair amount higher than CreateSpace.
  3. Design limitations. While veteran P.O.D. publishers have the capability of publishing book covers from single files, Nook has made the regrettable decision that it is “easier” for users to submit a back cover and front cover separately, and then choose from a very limited selection of spine options. While this will probably reduce user error, it certainly devalues the appearance of the final product in most instances. Hopefully, the company will rethink this, at least offer single-file cover designs as an advanced option.
  4. Whence B&N? The truth is that Barnes & Noble has been hemorrhaging quite badly for the past few years, and the jury is still out regarding its staying power long term. If it can successfully transition into areas they had hoped for more success, perhaps their P.O.D. offering will evolve into something more attractive down the road. But at the moment, it is unlikely that authors and publishers already using other P.O.D. services will jump ship en masse.

That said, there are small publishers out there who do some of their own distribution, and indeed some who are ambivalent at best toward Amazon. At the same time, some of them may not want the bit of extra work involved with Lightning Source. Then too, the Nook P.O.D. arm looks like a relatively painless way of adding a hardcover option to existing titles.

So while hardly earth-shattering, this news is welcome.

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