In defense of authors and readers.

I love my Nook.

I haven’t abandoned paper books. In fact, more than half the novels I read are real printed editions. But I adore getting the latest releases for less money on my Nook. And having instant access to almost any book I want to read whenever I feel like reading it.

And reading with the backlight in the dark is one of my favorite things in the world.

Because of all this Nook love, I don’t have anything against Barnes and Noble, even though many consider them one of the evil national retailers.

But something a spokesperson for company is quoted as saying in this article really pisses me off.

“The bookseller said it will continue to build its digital catalog and add thousands of e-books every week. Its digital sales decreased by almost 9% for the fourth quarter, but Barnes & Noble noted that the decline is partly due to drop in device sales and also because popular novels, such as The Hunger Games and Fifty Shades of Grey trilogies, were best-sellers a year ago.”

Really?

Poor Nook sales are the fault of all the authors who aren’t Suzanne Collins and E.L. James? You know, all those authors who write quality books that don’t feature sexual torture chambers or children killing each other on television? Books that people with an ounce of intelligence might actually read?

(Ok, so I actually really liked The Hunger Games. I thought 50 Shades was awful, but The Hunger Games was engaging and thought-provoking in spite of being a phenomenon.)

I’m sure there are many, many issues that factor into lower sales for both the Nook and it’s digital content. But for a huge conglomeration to even partially blame lower sales on a lack of best-selling young adult dystopian novels and poorly written smut seems unfair.

It’s like B & N is suggesting there aren’t enough good books out there for them to sell.

At the very least they are admitting that last year’s sales were over inflated because of the trilogies. (And whose fault is it that they based their sale projections on an abnormal year?)

So while Barnes and Noble is waiting around for the next Fifty Shades of Crap to revitalize their e-reader business, I have a couple of suggestions that might help boost their sales:

Allow Nook owners to use B&N coupons
Almost every coupon receive via email does not apply to Nook book purchases. Even a measly 10% off might make me want to purchase more books.

This last weekend they finally had a sale on “best selling” digital books and I bought four.

People want to feel like they are getting a deal, Nook users included, so give them a deal.

(I’m purposely not getting into the whole issue of what sale prices, coupons and cheap books mean to authors. I honestly don’t know how much goes to the authors but I’m sure it’s not enough. I’m just suggesting ways Barnes and Noble might entice more sales.)

Let readers lend more books.
Every once in a while, I’ll buy a book with that “Lend Me” icon which means I can let one other Nook owner “borrow” the book for a limited length of time.

But most of the books are stuck on my Nook.

When I buy a printed book, I often will lend it to a friend to read. Or donate it to the library or a charity book sale when I’m done. It feels a little wasteful to let a great book languish on my device when I’m through reading it.

Readers love to share so why not make more books lendable?

And maybe relax the lending standards too. Not everyone can read a book in fourteen days.

Find a way to autograph digital books.
I love having my books signed. I know it’s geeky, but it makes me happy.

Whenever I’m going to see an author speak, I buy a printed copy of the book for autographing. But how cool would it be to have a whole slew of signed digital books on your e-reader?

It would be like those people who have every musician they meet sign their guitar.

Or like an old-fashioned autograph book.

I certainly don’t have any definitive answers on how to save the Nook and I’m sure the company has better minds than mine working on the problem.

But as a book and Nook consumer, I humbly suggest the Barnes and Noble stop blaming the authors and focus on the readers.

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