Is Barnes & Noble Nook Press “Bad” for self-publishing authors?

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The other day, I read an article that made the argument that Barnes & Noble Nook Press is “bad” for self-publishing authors. This article went so far as to say this in the first paragraph:

It is my belief that Nook Press is bad for authors and solely exists to financially gouge them at every opportunity.

The article goes on to explain that Nook Press it out to make as much money as possible, going so far as to partner with Author Solutions to offer editing services, cover design, etc. Here is another excerpt from the article, explaining how Nook Press is gouging you:

Barnes and Noble Nook Press is obsessed with charging authors for everything they can. Have whack cover art? You can pay for that. Need assistance with Word to EPUB conversions? You can certainly pay for that too. Not sure what you need done? You can pay for that knowledge and then pay for whatever they recommend. All along the way you can expect emails, newsletters and telephone calls trying to get you to upgrade your existing package. All for the good of your book of course.

Except… I don’t really have a problem with this practice. The article contends that Author Solutions is unlikely to provide the quality services that authors are expected to pay for their services, which may be true, and about which authors certainly want to be aware. Maybe Barnes and Noble has chosen the wrong company to outsource with… but is outsourcing these services wrong to begin with? And don’t most self-publishing authors do research before they publish, and consequently realize the importance of a quality cover, editing their work, etc.?

I like to walk into Barnes&Noble to peruse the books and buy an expensive cup of coffee. I own a Nook, because Barnes&Noble was the first to come out with one that is simple, that is just for people who want to read books on their e-readers (tablets are all well and good, but I didn’t want a tablet), that can be read in pretty much any light. I agree that bookstores need to be willing to change and expand in order to remain a viable business. Yet I do not think that necessitates the bookstore expanding completely into the editing venue. There are plenty of freelancing editors, etc., who already offer great services. Why would I want subpar editors through Barnes&Noble? (Because if Barnes&Noble were to possess its own editing staff, you know they would be subpar.)

Self-publishing is, in essence, owning your own business. As a business owner, you are expected to research and contract with vendors, you are expected to research and understand the basic mechanics of the business into which you are venturing, and you are capable of doing a quick Yelp or Google review search to see if the company you are considering contracting with is well received by others in the same line of business.

I think it is fine to use Nook Press to publish your works. I think it is fine to pay consultants to help you mold your e-book into the best e-book it can be. I think it is also fine to do research and expend your energy to create the e-book and market it yourself.

I do not think Nook Press is “solely” out to “financially gouge” authors at “every opportunity.” Yet Nook Press is a business, and it is going to seize opportunities to make more money. Does that make Nook Press “Bad” for authors? Of course not. This article, while making numerous strong arguments with which I did not entirely agree, does have one lesson to offer from which anyone considering self-publishing can benefit: Do not blindly trust others, whether they are companies, friend, family, etc., to guide your business decisions. Know that as an intelligent individual, you should work smart as well as work hard, in order to make your business/life/etc. into the best possibility you can achieve.

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