B&N Says They Took Away the Download Option as a Security Measure – Here’s How to Get Around It

microsoft nookWhen I first reported yesterday that B&N had removed the option to download ebook purchases from its website, I didn't know whether that was a technical snafu or an intentional move. Sadly, B&N has confirmed that they did it on purpose:

The ability to download from the NOOK® website and then sideload certain NOOK eBooks has been discontinued as part of a recent security update. Content that has previously been downloaded can continue to be sideloaded to NOOK devices. Customers can continue to access all of their content through the NOOK Library® on any NOOK device or Free NOOK Reading App™ as they have always been able to do. Customers can also continue to sideload other supported file formats.

Given the ease with which one can strip the DRM from the ebooks bought at the Nook Store, I'm not sure exactly what security is gained by blocking the direct download option. (Kudos to Chris Meadows for guessing that B&N would be foolish enough to use security as their justification).

But never mind B&N; let's look at what readers should do next.

How to Download Nook eBooks

You can still download Nook ebooks, but since we can no longer trust B&n to allow us access to our purchases I think you should go ahead and take the extra step of stripping the DRM as well.

Whether you choose to take that step is your business, but how you go about it will depend on how you read Nook ebooks.

For example, if you read on a Nook ereader, you can use the DRM-stripping instructions I posted in late 2012 to automatically transfer your ebooks off of your device and on to a computer via a USB cable. I updated those instructions in late 2013, so they don't quite match the current version of Calibre, but they can still be used as a guideline.

If you don't have a Nook device, I think your best bet would be to install either NookStudy or Nook4PC and use those apps to download your ebooks. Of course, they can't download everything, just the ebooks which they can open ( N4PC does not support digital comics, for example).

Neither app is supported any longer by B&N, but you can download ebooks - and then you can strip the DRM.

But what if you don't want to strip the DRM, but simply want to download the ebooks? In that case, you might want to consider a handy little userscript for Firefox and Chrome.

B&N's change in policy has upset a lot of people, and a couple helpful souls over at MobileRead have dredged up a userscript that adds a download link for each ebook on your My Nook page. It's really easy to use, and it doesn't do anything other than help you download an ebook. It won't strip the DRM, but it does give you a copy of your purchases.

In order to use the script, you will first need to install either GreaseMonkey (Firefox) or TaperMonkey (Chrome). These are plugins which you will need to run the script.

You can find the script at this link. I got it to work on both Chrome and Firefox. As you can see in the screen shot below, it adds a download link, not a button.

barnes noble download links

About Nate Hoffelder (11585 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."

29 Comments on B&N Says They Took Away the Download Option as a Security Measure – Here’s How to Get Around It

  1. They should have gone all-in and said it was part of the War Against Terror. The worst part about these kinds of lies is that they also insult our intelligence. Wankers.

    (I’ll take that back if they publish the details of the security vulnerabilities they were patching.)

  2. bn.com still says you can download – I saw two places that said you could in their FAQ
    http://www.barnesandnoble.com/u/nook…-faq/379003486

    Where are my NOOK Books stored?
    Your purchased NOOK Books and free samples are stored online in your NOOK Library. You can access them at any time by signing in to your BN.com account. From there, you can download them any time to your handheld device or computer. Visit your NOOK Library

    Can I access my NOOK Books while traveling?
    You can download NOOK Books from your NOOK Library that have already been purchased. You will not be able to purchase NOOK Books if you are traveling outside of the United States.

  3. Let me walk this through this process and see if I’ve got it right. B&N used to allow customers to download the ACSW file for books they purchased from B&N. When you open an ACSW on a device connected to the internet it pings a distribution server somewhere, identifies itself a legitimate purchase, identifies you as the owner of the book and of the device you are opening it on (a nook, a computer with Adobe Digital Editions, or a copy of B&N’s nook app), and only then sends an actual copy of the book to that device. Do I understand the process correctly or is there something different about B&N’s unique version of DRM that I don’t know about, for example what happens if B&N takes their servers down?

  4. I did call that, didn’t I?

    Sad but true: you don’t often go wrong by overestimating how stupid someone is likely to be.

  5. As a user of EPUB format, I often buy from B&N when I can, as an alternative to Amazon so I don’t have to convert with Calibre… But I don’t read on the Nook platform any more because I have an alternative tablet as well as a N2A card on my old Nook Color. So I guess I won’t be buying any more books from B&N if I can no longer get them onto my devices! How can this NOT be shooting themselves in the foot?

    • B&N does have an Android application, but they mysteriously won’t let you use on Nooks running the non-B&N software.

      Also, it’s pretty bad.

      So … yeah. They don’t want to give you a good reading application (except their discontinued Windows 8 and Nook Study programs), but they don’t want you to use something else, either. I guess they’re just going to take their ball and go home.

      • Nothing mysterious about that if you think about it.

        NookOS has its own specialized Nook Reader app built in, but it can install apps from the Google Play Store in addition to B&N’s Nook app store.

        The Play Store doesn’t have any way to tell a Nook running NookOS apart from a Nook running CyanogenMod, so it basically just assumes a Nook is going to be running NookOS. It would be confusing to Nook users if they were able to install a second copy of the Nook reader on their device. It might even screw something up with the copy that’s already installed. So they disallow it.

        I believe this is also why they disallow installing SwiftKey; NookOS has its own version of SwiftKey built in.

        In both cases, the prohibition is only against the Google Play Store downloading the app to a hardware device that self-identifies as a Nook. You can still install them from a third-party app store such as OneMobile.

  6. 3 things:

    1) i’m all in favor of diversity in the ebook seller world, yet we get mess ups like this throwing boulders in the road,

    2) it’s weird that B&N would feel they even needed to do this,

    3) even weirder (as they must have known) how easy it’d be to get and use these scripts to just bypass via popular browserss.

    Wow.

    • You are assuming that senior corporate managers, who set policy, ask their IT department and their marketing department for advice and then consider said advice before they decide on a “bold new plan of action”.

      You are assuming that the middle managers, in charge of the IT and marketing functions are brave enough to tell senior corporate managers things that the senior managers don’t want to hear.

  7. It’s actually more of an insecurity update, isn’t it? This is just the latest way B&N’s institutional insecurity is manifesting itself…

  8. There is no way I will ever support or buy from a company where I have to “work around” to access the content I purchased.

    (Meanwhile, I happily buy from Smashwords, Weightless, Gumroad, the various bundle sites and other indie ebook vendors precisely because I can just pay and download — I pounced on the recent Humble Bundle Star Trek comic collection and will be picking up the Valiant bundle soon .)

    B&N will never be able to “secure” their books while there is the option to screen capture on readers’ devices. Sure, it would be tedious to do that for an entire book — but Harry Potter fans manually retyped the books when they weren’t available in ebooks.

    B&N’s woes are entirely self-inflicted and I will have no sympathy for them when their house of cards finally collapses.

    • Actually the Harry Potters (among many, many others) were scanned and the resulting images run through OCR software, then the resulting miss of spill chucker airs was hand-edited. Still time-consuming, but not as much as retyping the whole thing 🙂

  9. what up with the “microsoft nook” emblem in the header?

  10. As of Oct 11, I can’t get the GreaseMonkey script to run, nor can I get Calibre to actually download from BN; it just pulls up the “read instantly” web interface in a frame and has the book visible there, but I still can’t figure out how to download

    • This is strange. The script still works for me on Chrome and Firefox.

    • I was surprised to see the alternative links had apparently vanished on the “My NOOK Library” page. Upon going to the Greasemonkey icon in the Firefox toolbar, I saw the “Enabled” option in the pulldown menu was no longer checked. It’s possible Firefox disabled it during an update.

      Once I got “Enabled” checked again, I reloaded the “My NOOK Library” page and the alternate download links appeared.

  11. You probably need to update this again. NookStudy has been replaced and the newest Nook app for PC only works with Windows 10. Also, using the TaperMonkey script only causes the Barnes & Noble MyLibrary to redirect to a error page.

  12. I’ve somehow been blocked from accessing my library at B&N’s website. They insist I’m not blocked, but every way they’ve told me to try hasn’t worked. They get so frustrated/angry they get rude and even hang up on me. I can’t even download from my PC Nook app. I don’t know what to do. I bought over 300 Nook books and should have SOME freedom of what I can do with them. I don’t want to cheat anyone; I’ve paid for these ebooks!

  13. I’m in SHOCK! I just opened my nook to find that all downloading is locked. I have 71 books in my nook! Then read the article about B&N
    shutting down our access and have since been reading everyone’s comments.
    Will someone please tell me what DRM means and how it can be sidelined to remove the books that we paid for! There should be a huge lawsuit over this. I bought the Nook to save money as well as for convenience. Now what? Is there ANY way to retreive our books? What good is having an e-reader if it can’t be used —and they are STILL selling ebooks. This doesn’t make sense!!!

  14. Deanna, are you in the UK? If so, look up recent articles about B&N shutting down Nook services in the UK.

3 Trackbacks & Pingbacks

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