**Update** As of 2/1/2021, Barnes & Noble has changed its royalty rates so that it is a flat 70% for e-books with no delivery fees and without maintaining a tiered system based on book price. Which is fantastic. Naturally, I attribute the change to my post below.
This is part 2 of 3 of my reviews of the self-publishing platforms I’ve used so far. The first one dealt with Amazon and can be found here: Review of Amazon.
You can find my works currently with Barnes & Noble here.
1. Large Network
Like Amazon, Barnes & Noble has a very large platform of dedicated customers. Unlike Amazon, it’s still largely dedicated to books. This gets your book in front of potentially millions of new customers that prefer to shop for books through B&N.
2. Ease of Use
Again, B&N is easy to use, although I would have to give the edge to Amazon on this one. I think it’s still pretty straightforward and not too much work for someone with a little bit of computer literacy to figure out, though. In particular, B&N makes it much easier to add your books to the appropriate categories, whereas Amazon keeps that formula much more of a puzzle, at least for getting your books added to certain subcategories.
3. Straightforward Royalties
**Update** As referenced above, the royalty system changed as of 2/1/2021. I’m keeping the below just for historical purposes. But this royalty system is even better now – 70% for all e-books, regardless of price.
The royalty system on B&N doesn’t appear to have any tricks or gimmicks about it. You get 65% for any e-book priced at $2.99 or higher and 40% for any e-book priced between 99 cents and $2.98. They don’t charge you a delivery fee and they don’t reduce your higher royalty rate for something less on the basis of location of the purchaser.
There’s so much to figure out when trying to self-publish for the first time that I think this benefit is bigger than some would initially think. It’s nice to have this aspect laid out in a simplistic, unchanging way.
4. Better Royalties
In comparison to Amazon, that is. At least that’s been my experience. Amazon likes to tout that it has a 70% royalty rate, but, as discussed in my review of Amazon, that’s actually pretty misleading. When they charge a delivery fee and reduce your royalty for sales in many countries, I’m sure I get less than the 65% that B&N provides. Plus, of course, 40% on lower priced publications is 14% higher than what Amazon provides.
5. Sales & Coupons
B&N gives authors the ability to add coupons to your books without having to enroll them in a program that demands exclusivity to B&N. In face, On His Orders: Entertaining Three is currently on sale at Barnes & Noble (coupon code BNPORDERS50).
1. Coupons Not Automatically Provided
From what I can tell, even though B&N lets authors add coupons whenever they want, it doesn’t list them as being “on sale” or “discounted,” and it doesn’t automatically apply the coupon. They don’t even appear to tell customers what the code is, meaning you would have to get the code elsewhere. So, you know. If you don’t have a big network, the coupon doesn’t do much good.
2. Sales Lag Behind Others
Perhaps this has just been my experience, but the sales on B&N don’t match what I see elsewhere. B&N has a huge network, but if it doesn’t translate into sales, the network size didn’t provide a benefit.
3. Slow Publication Times
I know B&N’s systems had a hiccup a while ago that slowed publication, but I’ve found that they take much longer than most retailers to add a publication to their available inventory. I asked customer service about it once, and I received a response. Two weeks later and right after my book was finally made available for sale.
4. No Unlimited Reading Program
While Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program has some real drawbacks, it is a nice service that I would gladly use if it didn’t require exclusivity. It would be great if B&N offered something similar. I think it’s helpful for authors – particularly new authors – to get their books in front of more people.
The bottom line for me is that if I were going to get rid of using one of the three retailers I currently use, it would be B&N. Their royalties are good, their ease-of-use is pretty good, and they have a large network. But, it hasn’t translated to sales, and they negate one of their biggest perks (the ability to add coupons whenever you want) for authors without a sizeable following with their deficiencies in the coupons feature.
But if you aren’t locked into exclusivity with another retailer, it’s easy enough to get published on B&N, so there’s really nothing to lose. It just seems like this would be a better option for an author that already has an established following.