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The Beginning of the End: B&N Shutters the International Nook Store

16319744852_d331006002_bOver the past month B&N has been making us wonder whether it was committed to ebooks. First B&N closed its office in Luxembourg, then it relaunched its website with a borked Nook area, and today B&N has removed all doubt.

Barnes & Noble is sending out emails to customers in Europe, sharing the news that they will soon be ex-customers.

You can find the email at the end of this post (translated from Dutch; Thanks, Martjin!) but the short version is that B&N has reiterated the announcement they made last month when they said the Nook Windows 8 app would no longer be available internationally.

B&N is abandoning most of its international customers on 7 August 2015.

The Nook Store had been available in 40 countries, including Australia, much of Europe, Canada, the UK, and the US; on 8 August the Nook Store will only be available in the US and UK (this was confirmed by B&N).

This really comes as no surprise; B&N had only announced its international expansion plans following the 2012 partnership with Microsoft. Outside of the US and UK, the Nook store was only available via the Windows 8 app (which is why I joked that the international store really belonged to Microsoft).

And what with B&N  buying out Microsoft’s share of Nook Media in December, it’s not like we didn’t see this coming.

The next question, of course, is where does B&N go from here?

With Nook revenues having fallen to half that of the previous fiscal year ($264 million) and expected to continue declining (authors are already reporting that the malfunctioning website has killed their sales) the odds are very good that B&N is going to throw in the towel on their ebook money pit.

Should that happen, the only question will be whether they will sell the Nook platform or simply shutter their ebook operation.

If Nook users are lucky, B&N will find a buyer. Kobo, for example, could take over the customer accounts just like they did when Sony pulled out of the ebook market last year.

But B&N could still simply close the Nook Store, and there is a chance that incoming B&N CEO Ron Boire might pull a rabbit out of his hat and save the Nook.

Dear Customer,

We recently announced that Barnes & Noble and Microsoft have agreed to terminate their commercial partnership. As a result, payments through your Microsoft account no longer supported. In addition, the NOOK App for Windows will from August 7, 2015 are no longer available outside the United States. This means that your NOOK content can no longer open on a Windows platform.

Our records indicate that you are outside the United States and that you are using your Microsoft account as a payment method in your NOOK App for Windows account. Therefore, you may be eligible for a refund from Microsoft for any purchases you have made with your Microsoft account.


image by JeepersMedia

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fjtorres July 8, 2015 um 4:00 pm

Much more interesting to speculate: what will MS do about ebooks in Win10.
Roll their own?
Team with Amazon?

Nate Hoffelder July 8, 2015 um 4:53 pm

I’d just go with Amazon. Or Kobo. Both have Windows 8 aps anyway.

fjtorres July 8, 2015 um 5:58 pm

Okay. Just for the heck of it, I’ll bet MS will wait until the asking price comes down to something reasonable ($299.00) and pick up the carcass to bundle it with Win10 with Bing. 😀

Nate Hoffelder July 8, 2015 um 6:12 pm

I think a fair price would be however much MS was paid for its share of Nook media.

fjtorres July 8, 2015 um 9:07 pm

Yeah, but $299.00 is the borderline price for impulse buys. 🙂
Once you factor in the losses while the leaking ship is righted, $299.00 is more than a fair price.
At least B&N wouldn’t be paying somebody to take on the burden of shutting it down.

Jack July 8, 2015 um 5:06 pm

When Kobo took over the Sony stuff, I lost almost all of the e-books in my Sony account and all of my cash credit in my Sony account. Neither Kobo nor Sony would do anything to help me. Since then, I’ve refused to have anything to do with either company. If NOOK gets transferred to Kobo, that’s the last of that for me. Glad I’ve got ’em all downloaded.

MG Camacho July 10, 2015 um 8:42 am

I guess I am one of the few lucky ones who didn’t lose any of my purchases when I migrated from Sony to Kobo. I still use Kobo especially because I can shop from my indie bookstore’s Kobo link and my indie bookstore gets a % of the sales.

Nate Hoffelder July 10, 2015 um 9:38 am

I would expect to lose nearly all of my Nook library in a move to Kobo. Most of my purchases were from Fictionwise, a lot of which were DRM-free stuff sold by the authors themselves, and those only exist now because B&N is hosting a copy.

Kob will just get the account info, so all those ebooks will vanish in the move.

DaveMich July 8, 2015 um 5:28 pm

Apparently there were even more things broken…

Nate Hoffelder July 8, 2015 um 5:57 pm

Yep. I was going to add that to the links post tomorrow.

Richard Adin July 9, 2015 um 4:44 am

An expected development, I would think. I know I have stopped buying ebooks for the most part except occasionally from Smashwords. I stopped when B&N disabled downloading. Print books may have storage problems, but I physically have them and it doesn’t matter whether the bookstore I bought from survives or doesn’t or changes its terms of leasing ebooks.

eBooks have advantages but for me — let me emphasize that "for me" — the disadvantages outweigh the advantages significantly, especially considering the price asked for many ebooks.

Do you think that this is part of a conspiracy to revitalize print books and destroy ebooks? Should we ask the DOJ to investigate? 🙂 (Only being facetious here)

Bostjan July 9, 2015 um 6:52 am

I believe that in all digital marketplaces where there is a sort of a DRM there must be a government requirement that you must transfer the accounts and bought media to a different company. If I own some digital media (in the cloud) I should be able to freely transfer that between companies.

Feda July 9, 2015 um 6:58 am

Whoever buys DRM infested content, and with that supports that system, gets what they deserve.

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Tom Semple July 9, 2015 um 2:46 pm

It is telling that B&N is not publicly re-affirming their commitment to Nook as they are doing this. That lack of affirmation is surely inflicting damage to the business. Who would buy an ebook from them now, and why?

Nate Hoffelder July 9, 2015 um 3:04 pm

Good point.

B&N did make a statement (I left it out), but they did not affirm their support for the Nook platform.


Hugh Howey July 9, 2015 um 7:44 pm

Yet another example of a market leader seeing an inevitable disruption and being unable to pivot and capitalize. This is right out of THE INNOVATOR’S DILEMMA. You can’t get players within B&N to commit to a new architecture, with new accounts, where small wins are celebrated as wildly as existing (and larger) print book wins. And so you develop animosity within the corporation, innovation moves slowly, and no one has proper incentive to see that the disrupting technology gains hold. Even when those inside and outside the corporation can see what needs to be done (ebook search is broken, review system is being used for chatting and games), there isn’t sufficient threat to the core business to fix the problem with haste.

B&N is still profitable, as it transitions to a gift store with more space for games and toys and less for books. And print books are on their way to becoming gift purchases, as the majority of reading now takes place on screens, but the gift of a book to another is an easy and healthy choice (just match a subject or genre to the friend or family member’s tastes), and a gift of a book to ourself is like gym equipment that sits under the bed. The book goes unread or unfinished, but we invested in our hopes of being more like the person we want to be.

I think publishing observers have it backwards, to be honest. The subscription model will emerge as a profitable enterprise, with Amazon the only one left standing. And B&N will be the company that survives based on a gym membership mentality. They will continue to sell enough books to remain viable for another 3-4 years, just as communities are full of gyms that no one goes to, but everyone belongs to. That TBR pile won’t get any smaller, but we’ll keep buying books, promising ourselves we’ll get off our phones and make time to read.

Tim Wilhoit July 10, 2015 um 12:36 am

"B&N is still profitable, as it transitions to a gift store with more space for games and toys and less for books."

What a difference 20 years makes, eh? In the 90s, B&N was a lithe young predator, stalking indie prey. He would sneak close to his victims and park his "business" across the "street" from them. When the moment was right, he would pounce, ripping out his meal’s jugular with razor sharp "predatory prices." Now, the old boy is arthritic, nearly toothless and can barely pounce on a saucer of moistened kibble.

I prefer the indies anyway, they have far more character. Books too. 😉

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How do we access books on nook.

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