B&N’s Digital Textbook Platform Yuzu Continues to Frustrate Students

YUZU-logo-tm[1]This being January, a new semester is starting at many colleges across the US, and that means that many students are encountering B&N's textbook platform for the first time.

Barnes & Noble hasn't officially launched Yuzu in the 9 months since they turned the platform on, but that doesn't mean they're not inflicting it upon college students.

The retailer has been promoting Yuzu in the college bookstores it runs while at the same time neglecting to mention that the platform is still under development. Basically B&N has been recruiting college students to be unwitting guinea pigs in the development process, and conning them into paying for the privilege (with no refund option).

And judging by the students who have shown up in my comment section, they're not too happy about the situation. Three students have left comments on this blog in the past week, all of which have complained about Yuzu.

For example:

I just rented my first e-book for school and of course it’s Yuzu. I hate hate hate it.

The text is tiny and you can’t enlarge the whole page. Highlighter feature seems useless to me. No, you cannot print and I even tried sending to onenote to enlarge it there, but it didn’t work. I so regret the $73 I had to spend for this and hope they get enough of the same feedback to stop using this affiliation for textbooks. I would have been so happy if I could have read on another platform…sigh.

And then there's this one from yesterday:

Yuzu is horrible. I wish I would have gotten the hard textbook because it takes twice as long to read the digital book. It is hard to turn the pages, every time you touch the screen the note tab pops up, so you have to close it. Very irritating. It is hard to navigate, not intuitive at all. It also freezes up frequently, so you have to reload it all the time. Do not use yuzu!

And one from last week:

Posting this as a word of caution to any students considering purchasing an e-book on the YUZU platform. I am using the webapp organic chemistry e-textbook I purchased for a class and will never do this again. This would have been fine for a casual read, but there are several issues in functionality that make this almost useless for a class text book. (The price difference was not that significant either, compared with the hardcopy).

My biggest complaints: The pages appear to be protected such that you cannot print. Since turning a page takes about 5 seconds (each…turn….), I tried to print out the end of chapter questions so that I can work on them while referring to the text. What I got was a blank page. NO PRINTING!

And then there are the reviews on iTunes, where the iPad app has a two-star rating:

What the heck. This doesn't allow us to copy and paste for easier quoting in our papers and we can't even use the ctrl + f shortcut or Find shortcut to find keywords for easier studying. I guess they did this so people couldn't cheat on papers? Yet Blackboard has a program to catch plagerism.... Why why limit us customers on how we use this app? I feel so cheated. Buy the eBook from the publisher or some other site, not Yuzu. Life will be easier without this app/site.

In short, this platform has been around for 9 months and is an utter fiasco.

So why does that matter (other than to show that B&N doesn't care about fucking over college students)?

Well, B&N is still planning to spin off Nook Media into a publicly traded company later this year, and that means they will need to pitch it to outside investors. And with digital revenues declining by 50% each period, B&N can't pitch Nook Media based on growth, so they'll have to pitch its diverse offering of services, including the Nook Store (which consumers are fleeing in droves), the overpriced POD service, the author editorial services (which have been outsourced to Author Solutions) and Yuzu.

My point, folks, is that Nook Media is a stitched together patchwork of technologies which - at best - resembles Frankenstein's monster.


But I would not make that comparison, because in the novel the monster was at least minimally functional as a unit, while you can't make that claim about Nook Media.

A more apt description for Nook Media would be to compare it to an early failed experiment from The Island of Doctor Moreau - one which was never shown to the public.

Alas, if only B&N would show that same courtesy to Nook Media, but it looks like this chimera is going to be put on display at least once later this year when it is spun off. Let's hope someone (other than this blogger) notes the kludged together nature of Nook Media and comments upon it.

image by Ant1_G

About Nate Hoffelder (11223 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."

22 Comments on B&N’s Digital Textbook Platform Yuzu Continues to Frustrate Students

  1. Heh.
    I don’t suppose *this* news is going to help the Yuzu side of the spinoff:


  2. I haven’t tried Yuzu, but it’s a shame it’s so bad because Nook Study was really good for its time. (It’s still pretty decent, and one can only wonder what it would be like if they had continued developing it.)

    But that just feeds into your patchwork Frankenstein metaphor…

    • NookStudy was awesome, but the funny thing about NookStudy was that it wasn’t actually developed by the Nook division. It’s the work of a tech team at B&N College, and actually dates to a time before Nook launched. The Nook label was only slapped on after the fact.

  3. I just purchased a digital book from Yuzu , and already I am not happy. I paid for the book $130.00 to rent a digital book I have to have. I got the confirmation email. The status is completed. The money has been taken from my account. The last email I received from them stated that my digital book was in my library. I go to the library and see that it still says “there are no books in your library”. To help me with this situation there is only the option of “place a ticket”. I have yet to receive a answer from. Seriously? ! One would think if you offered expensive digital books that you would have some available online technical support.

  4. This software/app is a worthless POS. There is nothing good about it. BN was very deceptive in inflicting this on students. There is no such thing as ethics at Barnes & Noble.

    I will never do another online class again. I equate this software with ISIS. NO EARTHLY GOOD.

  5. I cannot express in enough words my hatred for yuzu. I can’t read the text because it is so small and then I have to use the magnifier on each page to even see it, and then when you turn the page you have to re-open the magnifier AGAIN. Turning pages is horrible, it is slow as well. I can’t use it on my Samsung tablet which sucks, or anything else. I am confined to my laptop for it and made to use google chrome to open the digital reader. I HATE IT.

  6. So I decided to rent a digital copy of a book I need for class this Saturday. Come to find out that there isn’t even an app for Android and it won’t even work on my Note 4’s Web browser only my tablet. Unfortunately for me to use my tablet’s web browser I need an internet connection. I hate Barnes and Noble just as much as I hate apple.

  7. I hate YUZU!! I bought a lab manuel that I need specific pages for my lab and I cant even print it! Whats the point?? This is useless. I want my money back!

  8. I purchased the digital version of my graduate college textbook and I haven’t being able to open YUZU reader. I have dues on assignments and need to move on. This platform sucks. Don’t buy digital versions from B&N…

  9. Frustrated Student // 24 August, 2016 at 9:24 pm // Reply

    I knew I shouldn’t have even considered Yuzu to begin with. Thank goodness I haven’t opened the book. Now to just go get the refund. Which is probably going to be equally torturous as figuring out how to pay for my order online. Also known as ‘no, actually, call the store’. WHYYYY

  10. Yuzu is still having problems. Yuzu webreader will not load.

  11. Frustrated Student // 9 September, 2016 at 3:09 pm // Reply

    …The really funny thing is, on top of the problems with Yuzu, this article is one of the things on the first page of search results for some combination of terms involving Yuzu (which, I must admit I don’t remember now).

  12. Frustrated Student // 3 October, 2016 at 7:01 pm // Reply

    You wrote well. Thanks for breaking this news before my book became unrefundable.

  13. Why can’t I access my purchased readings on my macbook or my iphone?? This app makes absolutely no sense. it just takes me to an edit profile page with no other option. Incredibly displeased with this app. Spent hundreds of dollars on books for no reason.

  14. Its just ridiculous! I paid for a digital book that I cant download to use offline and I cant download the App! This is the most worthless POS I have ever been forced to use!

  15. I hate yuzu. I bought my textbooks thinking i was going to be able to use them on my nook color like i have previously but no they have them on yuzu which i rrally do not like. I am only to read my textbooks on my phone and the print is small and dont like the process of flipping pages because everything else pops up. I hope they go back to being able to use any and all nooks and other tablet forms and reading devices.

  16. Purchased an e-book through B&N Yuzu for my college class. Big mistake. As others mentioned, I could not use it with my laptop while offline, tried using my phone app and it never worked and finally gave up. I can’t print the pages I need or my highlighted parts or notes. Most of the features are pointless (for my purposes). “Highlighter” is really dim and you have to highlight the parts you want at least twice for it to stand out. This was a rip-off and I will never purchase anything through Yuzu, again. Did they run this product through any consumer testing groups before launching it? Or did they just toss it out on the market and slap a big price tag on it? I don’t need an answer, as I will never use it again. I ended up just purchasing the paper book, so I wasted the money I paid for this e-book. Lesson learned

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