Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Burning eBooks - B&N "nukes the NOOK"

Barnes & Noble is shutting down its Nook app store, (effective from March 15, 2016) through which it sold ebooks for its e-reader, the Nook.

Unless Nook owners in the UK take action immediately then their ebooks (& films) could be lost to them. It is yet another example of how you don’t own your ebooks with DRM - you’re merely licensing the right to read them for a time. This announcement is a bit like a commercially driven virtual Fahrenheit 451 "fireman" is going to disable your eBooks in a fast digital fire.

Customers must take action by the end of May 2016 in order to retain purchased content. So owners can end up with a device not being updated and a bunch of books not being readable or a new contract they never desired.

Here is the announcement:

Note this : “...continued access to the vast majority of your purchased NOOK Books...” They are not promising that customers will be able to transfer all their books even if they want to have a contract with Sainsbury's (https://welcome.sainsburysentertainment.co.uk/) they did not choose for themselves. Even if they get their books all those notes and highlights made int he Nook will be lost. They may also need a CinemaNow account to cover their film and video content - if they don't do this by the 30 April, they'll lose their purchased content.

Most e-books carry digital rights management software, or DRM, which prevents them from being pirated (or not), passed on to friends or, in this case, transferred onto another device by the same consumer. Currently, downloading e-books onto one device and even trying to read or access them on another can be a time-consuming and complicated endeavor. See this site for advice on how to (ehem) "deal with" the DRM in the Nook ebook format - it's not exactly easy for the layperson and breaks the contractual agreements entered into.

This says something about digital preservation.  Digital rights management (DRM) is deeply problematic and disabling our capability to preserve digital information for our future. It is yet another example of the fast fires of digital obsolesce as Anne R. Kenney would put it. Open Standards are our friend here as would be the loosening of DRM implementation.

The Nook is Nuked

Any doubt as to the demise of the Nook and the services relating to the hardware are removed by this report on MarketWatch.com by Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg on the 3rd March 2016.

Nook revenue, including devices, e-books and accessories, fell 33% because of lower device and content sales. The Nook unit had a loss before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of $11.1 million, an improvement from the $29 million loss a year ago.

During the company's earnings call, Barnes & Noble said that it is in the process of consolidating its Nook mobile app portfolio and its BN.com app into a consolidated app experience that it said will be of better use to customers. Approximately half of all traffic to BN.com now comes via smartphones and digital tablets, the retailer said.

"They had a solid quarter, with the Nook digital losses continuing to decline," said John Tinker, an analyst with Gabelli & Co. "What Wall Street really wants to see is for the Nook to disappear. But they can't walk away from customers who like the product. That said, the better BN.com does, the less important the Nook becomes."

Breaking down the numbers from this report by Stuart Lauchlan:

  • NOOK sales decreased 33% year-on-year to $52 million for the quarter.
  • Digital content sales decreased 23%, to $31 million.
  • Device and accessory sales decreased 44% to $21 million on lower unit sales and lower average selling prices.
  • Online sales overall declined 12.5%.

From 15 March, customers will also not be able to rent or purchase video content from the NOOK video store, which will be closed down completely on 30 April. If customers want to keep the content they’ve already purchased, the need to transfer content to other providers.

If you’ve bought Disney, Pixar, Marvel or Star Wars content, you need to open an account with Disney Movies Anywhere, while all other content will now require the opening of a CinemaNow account.  If you haven’t done so by 30 April, you lose the content you’ve purchased.

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