Barnes & Noble might have announced plans to spin off Nook Media into its own publicly traded company early next year, and after looking at B&N's ongoing investment in its digital sub I think the plan is going ahead, full steam.
The largest bookstore chain in the US has just announced that they are now going up against CreateSpace, Lightning Source, Blurb, and other competitors in the POD market. And it looks like B&N may have crawled into bed with Author Solutions to do it.
B&N put out a press release today which announced the launch of the Nook Press print service. B&N describes it as:
Designed to be simple and customizable, the NOOK Press print service provides customers with a complete do-it-yourself experience for creating a hardcover or paperback book. The new service offers black and white or color printing, high-quality paper choices, multiple trim sizes and cover treatments.
With print costs starting at $4 per copy for a 5"x8" paperback, Nook Press POD can handle both color and B&W; hardback and paperback; and it can support the common book sizes from 5" x 8" to 8.5" x 10".
There's no mention in the FAQ on the website or in the press release on how one would get the books into a bookstore, so at this point we can only assume that there is no distribution option, alas. (I have queried B&N on this point.)
That's going to drastically limit the value of the Nook Press POD services, given that Lightning Source and Createspace both offer distribution to bookstores.
In related news, B&N is also launching a new author services section today to help enable authors to get their ebook and print book on the market. Authors can now choose from a variety of packages and a la carte services to receive professional assistance making their book, including editing ($399 and up), cover design ($499), and package deals starting at $999, B&N has all of the bases covered.
It's not clear who is actually providing the services on behalf of B&N, but one thing I can tell you is that they are rather expensive. I have also noticed that the package deals bear a worrisome resemblance to the packages offered by Author Solutions under its various guises.
For example, B&N's $999 package and $1,999 package look an awful lot like the $799/$1,899 packages offered by AuthorHouse. The way that the feature lists are worded suggest that Author Solutions is actually providing the services on behalf of Nook Press. (Curiously enough, AuthorHouse is actually providing more services at a lower cost.)
I am still waiting for B&N to get back to me on that point, so you should take that observation with a grain of salt.
But even if I am wrong in making the connection, I would still suggest that authors avoid this part of Nook Press because the prices are simply too high.
The package deals cost more than similar packages at AuthorHouse and offer fewer amenities. That alone is a good reason to avoid them.
But I don't know I can make the same claim about the POD section. What do you think of the POD prices at Nook Press?
Here's a thought I had right after publishing this post.
At first I was puzzled that B&N would invest in a sub that was being spun off next quarter, but now that I have looked over the services I think i understand what is going on here.
In adding more services, B&N is trying to make Nook Media more attractive to a potential buyer. Rather than simply be a (failed) ebook platform, Nook Media can now be pitched as a digital publishing services company.
It's my guess that both the POD and author services have been outsourced. The actual investment for B&N is far less than what it would cost to develop those services from scratch.
The services might not be very attractive to authors, but that's not why the services were launched. This is a Wall Street play, not a move to invest in a market. B&N's goal is to make Nook Media more attractive to potential investors, and it will probably work.