B&N Continues to Abdicate International Expansion with Windows-Only Nook Promotion in Australia

If you live innook itunes Australia and want to invest in content from an ebookstore that no one is sure will be in operation this time next year, then I have some good news for you.Barnes & Noble has just announced a new promotion for the Australian branch of the Nook Store. Download the Nook app for Windows 8.1, sign up for an account, and you will also get five free ebooks and five free magazines. Want to read on Android, iOS, or on a Nook? Too bad; this offer is only good for the Windows Nook app.

The free ebook titles are Catch the Zolt: The Debt Installment One by Phillip Gwynne, Be Careful What You Wish For by Gemma Crisp, The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas, Back to the Pilliga by Tony Parsons and The Fence-Painting Fortnight of Destiny: A Memoir by Meshel Laurie. The free magazine issues include Australian Geographic, GQ, Good Health, Vogue and Taste.com.au Magazine.

B&N launched a Windows only version of the Nook Store in Australia and 30 other countries in late November 2013, and over the past month and a half they have run several promotions to encourage new customers to sign up. Unfortunately, they have yet to release any other apps in those countries, which means that the international Nook Store is effectively Microsoft's fiefdom.

I think it's rather unfortunate that B&N has neglected to expand support for Android or iOS; I know for a fact that they have customers using the Nook apps and the Nook hardware in those countries who are buying ebooks from either the UK or US Nook Stores.

About Nate Hoffelder (11586 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader:"I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

10 Comments on B&N Continues to Abdicate International Expansion with Windows-Only Nook Promotion in Australia

  1. Nook’s international expansion is on Microsoft’s dime.
    No MS funds, no expansion on any platform.

    The Golden Rule applies. 🙂

  2. They should at least offer a Windows 8 tablet if that’s what they offer their apps for. If Microsoft is behind B&N, they could also consider to “upgrade”/switch their Nook tablets to Windows RT. That should technically be possible, Microsoft willing to provide the licenses and operating system images.

    • I wonder if B&N is working in that direction?

      I doubt they will update existing hardware, but what are the chances this Windows focus is a sign that the next Nook will run Windows RT?

      • Depends if they follow the curse of Quark and outsource all development to a third party (Microsoft in this case). Or did they do that with the existing Nook’s when they went with Android? (saying that the new Nook Glowlight OS isn’t half bad. Easier to set up than my relative’s Kindle).

        It took Quark four years to recover from outsourcing to India, and they never recovered from the fiasco (although Adobe seems to be doing the same mistakes with its creative cloud license, ignoring what the market is telling them).

        • B&N’s android development team was internal at one point. I don’t know if it is now.

          I’m struggling to imagine an MS-designed Nook RT. It’s certainly possible but I just can’t imagine what it would look like.

          • The advantage of switching to Microsoft is that it would give a completely new look and feel to their product that would distinguish it from competing android tablets. The design of Windows RT might actually lead quite well to a eReader type tablet with its tile based layout.

            In addition, because Microsoft already carries out most of the compliance rules/standards for industry/government/education, it would mean Nook would finally be on the same playing field as Amazon and Apple, both of whom have certified devices for use in those areas (the Nook as far as I know, does not).

            The cons is that it must have a powerful chip in it and a decent screen. Anything less and it wouldn’t stand a chance.

            From Microsoft’s viewpoint if they did it for Nook and suddenly there’s a bunch of Nook tablets out there with the same rules applied to them as they have on the Android OS, then you have an opportunity to persuade Amazon to start designing decent apps for your platform that could be then implemented on all Windows tablets and not just the Nook. Hence a win win. If it cost them (Microsoft) $50 million to do, it would still be cheap at the price (or even better, a Microsoft branded tablet in all the Barnes and Noble stores).

      • Unless they can make it really cheap, I wouldn’t consider that the best idea, for tablets that run non-RT Windows would make more sense. Looking at the prices for Intel’s latest Tablet SoCs tells that they’ve arrived at were ARM SoCs once used to be: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Intel_Atom_microprocessors#Quad-core_tablet_SoCs

        These come with a completely new architecture (i. e., they’re not derivatives of former Atoms), which is easily overlooked: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silvermont

        Besides easily outperforming any ARM SoC currently around, these chips let you run non-RT Windows and probably any other operating system without the hacks that people had to do to achieve the same with the many ARM-based Android tablets. If the price of $299 that I’ve read for Asus VivoTab Note 8 is indicative, we’re going to see a number of affordable tablets capable of running non-RT Windows this year. Just image the mentioned model without the Wacom digitizer and less memory to get an idea of how prices could be cut down. If Microsoft wanted to back B&N, they’d provide the operating system for free.

        That’s just the direction that I would go, were I B&N, because it’s what I’d deem technically sound. But the book shop is probably not run by tech nerds. At the moment, B&N is not even present in my country anyway.

        • You’re completely off point, I am afraid.
          MS have no idea what to do with RT, that gives it a chance.
          (And if that’s WP9 on tablet it makes a rather little difference)

          Also this would not be your GP tablet – rather a plug into Nook / Xbox media resources so it will came discounted. If MS is ever going to do that.

          Personally, I believe MS buying ebook/media part of BN is pretty much inevitable for it’s user base (when it’s cheap enough).

  3. That it does not technically make sense to build a restricted device does not mean that nobody is going to try it. Considering that, we might actually see Windows RT living on. I don’t know how much extra work maintaining its API actually is for Microsoft and therefore what to think of rumors about the discontinuation of either Windows, Windows RT or Windows Phone. VLC developers’ blog posts about their effort to port their media player to Windows Modern UI suggest that Windows Phone is much closer to Windows than Windows RT is. On the other hand, Microsoft might certainly be interested in a platform like Windows RT where it can run its own store that independent developers for RT can’t bypass and thus get a share of all the software that is sold for the platform. That’s what Apple does with its tablets. It’s not in the customers’ interest though. This brings me back to what I wrote: the book shop is probably not run by tech nerds.

  4. On the other hand Nook is doing something Amazon has yet to do – offering ebooks to numerous countries across Europe without punitive surcharges.

    How is that Nook and other ebook retailers like ‘txtr, Google Play, etc) can manage to deliver local ebook stores to individual European countries while Amazon insists Austrians have to sign up with neighbouring Germany, Belgians have to sign up with neighbouring France, and the Swiss get the choice of Kindle Germany or Kindle France – or face being surcharged – and even having to pay for “free” ebooks from Amazon.com.

    To which we can now add New Zealanders now being reclassified as Australians.

    By no co-incidence these all happily coincide with the old world print market conventions.

    far from leading the ebook revolution internationally Amazon is still pandering to its primary income source for books – print – and building its ebook empire around its established print sales empire.

    Nook may well be cash-strapped and unable to deliver everything at once, but the expansion across Europe, even if just on MS devices right now, is a big step forward and shows great promise.

    Given Nook are also partnered with Samsung on at least one device it’s clear MS is not calling the shots, and we might yet see a lot more from Nook.

    Nook ebooks may only be available to readers in Finland, Malta, Poland and Latvia, etc, on Windows 8, but Latvians and Finns will no doubt find that preferable to paying the surcharges Amazon imposes.

    Nook may not be owned by B&N in a year’s time – it’s pretty clear that Nook is a drain B&N cannot survive with – but Nook is an entirely viable long-term business that any number of outfits would do well to grab.

    Microsoft and Samsung have to be front-runners to buy it out, but looking beyond the hardware firms there’s the possibility of a bricks and clicks giant like Walmart grabbing a ready-made ecosysten and throwing in the resources needed to make it a real success.

    Walmart have been toying with the idea of an ebook store for a while now as part of its shift to digital, and will be watching the proven success of grocers like Sainsbury in the UK to run a great ebook store, and looking on enviously as Tesco launch Blinkbox Books.

    A Walmart ebook venture is just a matter of time. Perhaps no coincidence they have just nabbed one of the Nook execs with a ton of expertise, and contacts with the Big 5 publishers.

    Walmart’s is the world’s biggest retailer, and could buy out Nook from petty cash. Given Walmart’s international reach, buying Nook as an international ebook venture would be a very smart move

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