One of the writers I know recently put his novel on Barnes & Noble's Pubit! self-publishing platform. He told me that the process was nowhere near as smooth or full-featured as Amazon's, but he had taken his book out of KDP Select and was now branching out. After getting through a few technical challenges, he finally uploaded his book and it went live.
About a week passed and there were no sales. Discouraging, but hey, it happens. Then Saturday I get an IM from him, and he tells me to go look at the book and read the review on B&N. I zip over there and see a one-star review, which is never good. Then I notice it says "Wrong Book". So I start to read...
It appears that at least the free sample of my friend's book was replaced by someone else's Erotica.
Really angered and annoyed by this, my friend goes looking for Pubit's help portal. Apparently all you can do is email Pubit directly - there is no specific support page, online form, chat feature, or other support tool. A polite but firm email was sent off, and fingers were crossed.
48 hours later, and nothing.
My friend, desperate to somehow make it known that this was not his error, goes to add a comment to the one-star review, as you can do on Amazon. No such luck with B&N. He then tries to post his own "review" just to let everyone know what's happened. Apparently B&N sequesters these in a "Your Review" section that only you can read. There's literally no way to alert a browser to the fact that this is Pubit's screw-up, not his.
My friend has now pretty much given up. Checking out the Pubit support forums, he sees that many authors are disheartened by the site's lack of author support, and many are taking their titles off and moving to other solutions. My friend has told me that if he doesn't hear from Pubit by tomorrow, he's taking down his book.
I think it's pretty clear that Barnes & Noble is in a fight for its life right now. Amazon is dominating the book market and with the closing of Borders last year, B&N can't help but feel the cold breath of Death blowing on its neck. If that's the case, and you KNOW ebooks are the Big Thing right now, why on earth would you go to apparently great lengths to ensure your self-publishing / ebook platform sucked rotten eggs? Why would you all but invite users to go somewhere else, frustrated with the way your company handles their relationship? Do you want to go out of business?
No company is perfect. Amazon has done some things to annoy authors and customers, and yes, I've had a few bumps in the road using KDP, but by and large they have had excellent customer and client service with me over the last few years. I've seen bad reviews on Amazon related to a technical issue, and I've seen the author or another reviewer comment on that review and help clarify matters. I've had support chat sessions with Amazon staff and received prompt help. They know the support is worth the price.
Yeah, building a full-featured service costs money. But I think in this current business climate, you gotta spend money to make money. If B&N can't do that, users are just going to go someplace else. I was originally going to publish my books through Kobo and Pubit, but now I think I'm going to stick with just Kobo, and rather than Pubit, go with a service like Gumroad.
Sorry Barnes & Noble. You lose...