Nook have just launched their GlowLight ereader in the UK. (link) A reminder that it’s business as usual for Nook even though they are due to be spun off from the B&N mother ship next year.
Will it help you get sales on Nook UK?
Yes, if you play your cards right.
Nook is still a low profile name in Britain. Nook devices are sold primarily by just two stores – John Lewis and Argos. They are available elsewhere, but as just one more device on the shelf, amid far better known brands.
The problems for Nook outside the US are two-fold. Brand recognition and late arrival.
Barnes & Noble is an unknown quantity outside the States unless you are an indie author or a regular trans-Atlantic traveller. So much so that you will be hard-pressed to even find the B&N name on the Nook UK website.
Bear that in mind when promoting. Readers have no idea what B&N is over here even though they may have a Nook ereader or tablet, or being using the Nook app. To promote to the UK and European / Australian markets don’t say B&N, say Nook UK, Nook Australia, Nook Lithuania or whatever.
But the bigger problem for Nook is late arrival. By the time Nook got to the UK the market had already been carved up by Amazon, Apple and Kobo, with a handful of domestic players joining the fray.
That’s not so say the stranglehold cannot be broken. Both Sainsbury and Tesco Blinkbox have shown it can be, very effectively, but they come at the problem from a totally different direction.
Even Google Play, with brand recognition to die for, is struggling to get a foothold in the UK, and for an unknown name like Nook it was far too little, far too late.
For Nook’s international expansion, the same applies only moreso.
That’s not to say you should write off Nook UK or Nook International as a dead loss. Far from it. It could and should be providing you with a small but lucrative stream of extra income. If it’s not, take another look at your marketing.
The Nook UK site is great. Unlike B&N it isn’t trying to sell you other products – not even print books – which means it has a clean, crisp reader interface and is not throwing smartphones, diapers or dog food in your face.
More interestingly, Nook UK is VERY often cheaper than Amazon UK.
Often, but not always. And sometimes promotions on Nook US do not carry over in timely fashion, so your 0.99 special in the US might still be showing it’s original price in the UK. And very occasionally a listing on Nook US doesn’t appear on Nook UK at all. From what I can see this tends to happen when using an aggregator.
For those who can, NookPress gives you far more control over pricing and promotion than going through an aggregator. Not least being able to set separate US, UK and Europe prices.
It’s not entirely clear what Nook is doing with its international expansion right now. At one point (late 2013) Nook was making titles available in over thirty countries, but only with a Windows 8 app.
But the NookPress dashboard now gives you the option to set a European price for France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands, with the caveat that due to high volume of content it may take time for (indie) titles to filter through.
Until Nook is formally separated from B&N it’s unlikely we’ll see much more action than what’s already underway.
The big question is who will buy out Nook next year. Microsoft seems to be favourite right now, but not by much. Samsung have abandoned their ebook project, so we can rule them out.
Three outsiders to keep an eye on are Wal-Mart, Tesco Blinkbox and Alibaba. Any of them could afford Nook out of loose change. All have an interest in digital media and in getting one up on Amazon. What better way to do that than to buy out one of the key rivals to the Kindle store and plough serious money into it to make it a serious player?
The AIS blogs delight in telling us how badly Nook is doing, but Nook has significant market share in the US and a very valuable customer data base. Whoever takes on Nook is going to have something very nice to build on if they plan on competing. And all three of those outsiders mentioned – Wal-Mart, Tesco and Alibaba – have far deeper pockets than Amazon.