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Why does B&N College Still Try to Sell PD Books?

As you probably know, I’m going back to school this semester. I am planning to blog about my experiences, and today I noticed something strange bout my college’s bookstore.

I’m going to NVCC, and their bookstore is run (under contract) by B&N College. Barnes & Noble operates 600 or so college bookstores out of some thousands in the US. That’s great for them because it gives them a chance to pitch NookStudy to students (great app) and to sell students the Nook. Note that I’m not complaining about the product pitches; often times it is a good thing. But the products they suggest  and how they pitch them are oddly disjointed.

For example, one book that I have to get this semester is Frankenstein (the classic novel). I needed it for a class in SF literature. This book is in the public domain (and thus freely available online), but B&N wanted me to buy a $10 paperback.

Seriously, B&N?

Okay, I can understand their desire to turn a profit, but what is equally interesting is that they didn’t offer any alternatives. I know that B&N sells an enhanced edition of this title in the Nook Store, but they didn’t offer it. The same goes for my other textbooks. A couple were available as ebooks, but B&N never offered me the option of buying the ebook.

Update: Okay, the copy of Frankenstein  is now showing in the college bookstore ($8). But the others are still not. Weird. Also, seriously, B&N? Eight bucks for a book over a century old?

So far as I can tell, the Nook Store is not completely integrated into the B&N College systems. That’s a pity, because B&N is missing an excellent opportunity to recruit future customers – including some who are using their parent’s credit card right now. Think of the money slipping through their fingers. It’s also exceedingly odd, considering that B&N sees the college bookstore as  way to sell hardware.

On a related note, I noticed this issue today because I was buying my books. My total costs were less than a quarter of what I would have spent had I bought used books in the college bookstore ($192 vs $44). My secret: I bought 3 books online elsewhere and checked another 3 out of the public library. Here is how I usually buy textbooks, in case you are interested.

P.S. Now that I’ve thought about it, I’m going to ask the professor to remove that particular title from the bookstore buy list, or at least switch it to optional. I’m sure most students would prefer to get a free copy online rather than pay for one.

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Robert Nagle February 10, 2012 um 11:41 am

Frankly, I don’t see why Kindle and Nook’s don’t have a way to browse & download from PG site. Bluefire and Stanza had that feature… It was great!

Mike D May 4, 2012 um 6:06 pm

Robert Nagle > I don’t see why Kindle and Nook’s don’t have a way to browse & download from PG site.

All Kindles do – just use the built-in browser to navigate to the PG or other site (mobile version is good) and click to download.

Needs a Wi-Fi connection or anywhere with a signal.for a Kindle Keyboard 3G.

Little Egret in Walton-on-Thames

Mike D May 4, 2012 um 6:17 pm

And as to – Eight bucks for a book over a century old?

For a plain text perhaps so but original illustrations, an index, notes and for an e-book a clickable table of contents may be worth consideration for a book to be heavily used.

I would certainly be prepared to pay such an amount for a paper or enhanced ebook copy of a book much older say Sir Isaac Newton’s Principia or even his Optics.

Little Egret in Walton-on-Thames

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