When Barnes & Noble launched the self-pub service Pubit in 2010, they were playing catch up to the larger and more successful Amazon KDP. Sure, Pubit accepted Epub and converted from Doc and RTF files, but it was also a distinctly second place service with some users reporting that it was clunky and awkward to use. Today that changes.
Barnes & Noble has just announced the launch Nook Press, and for once they've stolen a march on Amazon. Nook Press is going to replace PubIt as B&N's self-pub platform, and it adds a new function to the Nook Store that the Kindle Store still lacks. Rather than offer an automated conversion, Nook Press lets you upload a Doc or RTF file and then edit the work to produce a better looking ebook which you can then sell in the Nook Store.
This new service was developed in partnership with FastPencil, and at the moment it only supports basic Epub features. There's no support just yet for creating ebooks with B&N's fixed layout, Epub3 content features like video and audio, or any of the other cool tricks found in some ebooks today. It's also only available to US residents, just like PubIt, though B&N has plans to open it up to UK residents in the future. And just to complicate matters, a new account is required.
I have to say that when B&N dropped hints last week that something new was coming, this was not what I expected. But now that it is here I'm not so sure it's really all that amazing.
The thing about online book editors like Nook Press is that they are fairly common. I can think of a couple off the top of my head (Feedbooks and Pressbooks). Both are free, though Pressbooks has a limit before you will be asked to pay, and I am sure that there are other free options as well.
Update: I have just come across a mention of collaboration features. Nook Press lets authors invite other users to collaborate on a project. They can leave comments on the ebook but not edit it directly. Okay, now that is impressive. But also not exactly new.
I think the more important story today is that B&N also improved the base functionality of Pubit. I have confirmation from Theresa Horner, VP of Digital Content at Nook Media, that “We have improved the whole platform.” That's great. I think that it better to serve authors by fixing the bugs that they have to cope with rather than launch an equally clunky new feature.
But given the growth that B&N has reported, perhaps clunkyness wasn't the problem it might appear. According to the press release, PubIt attracts 20% more indie authors each quarter, and those authors add 24% more titles to the Nook Store each quarter. Indie titles make up about 25% of the sales each month in the Nook Store.
I have not had a chance to play with Nook press myself, so I would appreciate any comments from authors. How much did B&N improve the platform?