#WRITERS, Barnes & Noble Nook Press Contract Terms are INSANELY Bad!

This is from the April 3, 2013 Nook Press Terms and Conditions:

And trust me, you are going to want to read this bad boy yourself.

But I’ll comment here. My highlights of my excerpts of their text are bold, my personal comments are indented italic.

IMPORTANT NOTE: I am not a lawyer. I am a writer who reads the damned contract, and over the last 22 years, I’ve developed some skill in spotting bad clauses. But I would LOVE to have a lawyer’s take on this.

I’ve skipped a lot of minor evil, and am taking you straight to the bits about the money.

5. Pricing

A. List Prices. When you submit your eBook to us, you will provide a list price for your eBook in one or more currencies in accordance with the then current procedures listed in the Service Polices for list price submission (“List Price”). You will adjust the List Price as required to ensure that, at all times that the eBook is available for sale through NOOK Press, the List Price does not exceed the maximum list price or go below the minimum list price permitted in our Pricing and Payment Terms.

Okay. So far, this is within reason, though no link exists to let you see what current “List Price” is, or how you determine where your work will fit in their policy.

We will use commercially reasonable efforts to effect any change in List Price you provide to us within twenty (20) days following the date on which you submit it. We may provide other requirements for List Prices in the Service Policies which your eBooks must meet in order to be accepted and remain on NOOK Press, in addition to the requirements provided in the Pricing and Payment Terms. The List Price you provide will be exclusive of any applicable value added, goods and services or similar taxes (“VAT”). If we display a List Price to customers, we may add applicable VAT to the List Price you provide to determine the List Price that we display. If we offer your eBook for sale in a different currency than a currency in which you set your List Price (“Sale Currency”), we may convert the List Price to the Sale Currency at an exchange rate we determine. We may periodically update the converted List Price in order to reflect current exchange rates. If we convert your List Price to another Sale Currency, the converted List Price in the Sale Currency will be your List Price with respect to the offer and sale of your eBook in the Sale Currency for all purposes under this Agreement. For example, your Royalties (as defined below) will be calculated based on the converted List Price in the Sale Currency.

Do note that they don’t say they’ll change their price. They use legalese, and say they’ll “try.” This clause supports the one with big bad teeth further down. Beyond that “we’ll try to change your price” bit, though, nothing outside the bounds of the acceptable here, either. They gotta charge tax for places that collect them, they’re going to add the tax to the price rather than taking it out of your end. That’s how taxes work.

B. Customer Prices. We have sole and complete discretion to set the Retail Price at which your eBooks are sold to the customer. We or our third party retailers, partners or contractors are solely responsible for processing payments, payment collection, requests for refunds and related customer service.

This, however, is Bastion of Evil #1. When a retailer discounts a commercially published print book, the retailer has paid for that book, and any losses he takes for discounting the product will be HIS. When a retailer discounts an ebook, he is not taking a small loss to move product, because he has paid NOTHING to have that book in his inventory. (If you’re screaming about website maintenance and setting up ebook delivery systems, knock it off. When you own a business, building your damn website is a Cost of Doing Business, it’s deductible, and you already have to do that to sell the rest of the products you offer. Ask me how I know.)

So when a retailer discounts your ebook and you don’t sell enough extra copies to make up the difference, he is giving you an arbitrary pay cut. When he raises your set price and cuts your sellthrough to the point that you’re only selling a few copies, again the loss of sales is exclusively yours. He loses NOTHING because he paid nothing to begin with. Anything he does, no matter how much it hurts the sale of your book or you personally, is free to him.

But the retailer wants to make as much money as possible, so he would never do this, right?

What is Barnes & Noble? It’s a brick-and-mortar chain with a non-stellar online presence. It has a massive, vested interest in keeping print books at the top of the reading food chain, just as commercial publishers do. Commercial publishers have moved the price of ebooks upward to be the same as or higher than their mass market or trade paper versions. Why? For the publicly stated purpose of SLOWING DOWN EBOOK SALES.

Is it possible that Barnes & Noble, hoping to keep its stores open, might work to make the ebooks in its product line less appealing?

Okay, at this point, I know I sound a bit paranoid—but they do state that, no matter what you suggest for your price, they have no obligation whatsoever to honor it. Keep that in mind as we move forward. And remember, ANY legally binding clauses in contracts do not exist just for funsies.

Beyond that, this is the pricing clause, and there’s nothing in here at all about minimum or maximum prices. Not a word.

Anyway, now we get to “your royalties, as defined below.”

6. Payments

A. Royalty. If you are not in breach of any of your obligations under this Agreement, for each eBook sold to a customer through NOOK Press, Barnes & Noble will pay you the applicable “Royalty” defined and set forth in the Pricing and Payment Terms, net of refunds, chargebacks, bad debt and any applicable taxes charged to a customer or applied with respect to sales to a customer (including without limitation any VAT or sales taxes).

Okay. So you’re to get a royalty, after everything else has been subtracted out. Payment terms are next, where you’ll find out what your royalty is. Read this next bit twice. Better yet, print it off, and read it three times.

B. Payment Terms. Barnes & Noble will pay or cause to be paid your Royalties on sales of your eBook approximately sixty (60) days following the end of the calendar month during which it is sold. At the time of payment, we will make available to you an online report detailing sales of eBooks and corresponding Royalties. All payments will be made via electronic transfer payments or other method we designate in the Service Policies in the Sale Currency or other payment currency we provide for in the Service Policies. If we give you the option to change your payment currency and you select that option using our then-current procedures, unless otherwise noted the change will be effective on the first day of the calendar month following the calendar month in which you make the change. If we pay you in a currency other than the Sale Currency, we will convert the Royalties due from the Sale Currency to the payment currency at an exchange rate we determine, which will be inclusive of all fees and charges for the conversion. We may require you to register in your account a valid bank account for receiving EFT payments that is in compliance with the then-current Service Policies, in which case we will not be obligated to make payments of Royalties to you unless you do so. We are entitled to accrue and withhold payments until the total amount due is at least Ten U.S. Dollars ($10) or for payments in other currencies, at least those amounts we set forth in the Service Policies. You may not maintain any action or proceeding against us in respect of any statement unless you commence that action or suit within six (6) months after the date the statement is rendered. Any such action or proceeding shall be limited to a determination of the amount of monies, if any, payable by us to you for the accounting periods in question, and your sole remedy shall be the recovery of those monies with no interest thereon. If we pay you a Royalty on a sale and later issue a refund, return, or credit for such sale, we may offset the amount of the Royalty previously paid for the sale against future Royalties, or require you to remit that amount to us. Negative balances can occur when the value of all refunds of your eBook during a given payment period exceeds that value of orders for your eBook. If you have a negative balance on your payment date, the negative balance may be offset from future Royalty payments to you. If a third party asserts that you did not have all rights required to make your eBook available on NOOK Press, or if we believe that you may be in breach of your representations and warranties in this Agreement, we will be entitled to hold all Royalties due until we determine that the validity of the third party claim, that you were not in breach or have fully remedied your breach, as applicable. Upon termination of this Agreement, we may withhold all Royalties due for a period of three (3) months from the date they would otherwise be payable in order to ensure our ability to offset any refunds or other offsets we are entitled to take against the Royalties.

That’s it, Bob. That is the WHOLE ENTIRE DAMNED payments clause, and nowhere in this agreement that you must sign is there one word about what your royalty will be. The old agreement had it in there, nice and plain. Here? Well…this is what we call “signing a blank check” and THIS is why I keep saying READ THE DAMN CONTRACT.

Throw in the fact that B&N reserves the right to change your cover art without warning and with no redress possible from you (hey, you signed the contract), that you are required to make 100% of your book available for free to anyone reading on a Nook in one of their stores (no time limits or restrictions are mentioned, and if it’s not in the contract, it doesn’t exist,) and what you have here is the single worst contract I have ever seen in my life. And I’ve seen some real stinkers.

So will I be transferring my existing list of books from the existing PubIt program.

No. I’ll be pulling everything down from Barnes & Noble before their cutoff date.


I have now had to spam a couple of comments. This blog has rules for commenters. READ THEM if you don’t already know them. I don’t mind if you disagree with me, but if you do, BACK IT UP WITH FACTS. Snarky asides with no useful information, and personal attacks on me or the other commenters will get you marked as a spammer.


It comes down to this: If you read the clauses that are not appended to the contract, it is somewhat worse than Amazon’s contract. Not a lot. Just somewhat.

I have a file cabinet full of contracts, however, and all of them INCLUDE ALL THE PARTS of the contract right IN the contract. You can read the whole twenty-plus page agreement, and it is set in stone. The terms are the terms, printed out there right in front of you. You read them, and then you sign them, and both you and your publisher are bound by them. No part of them can be changed without you rereading and re-signing the whole thing.

The Amazon contract is a one-piece beast. Every time they change the terms, you have to read through and re-sign the whole thing. THIS IS A GOOD THING.

The Nook Press contract is like a publisher who left all the parts of the agreement that protect you in his other pants.

Sure, he has them, and you can take his word for it that he’s looking out for your interests too. But if you cannot read those clauses right in your contract, and they do not exist in the copy of the contract you print out, you are ONLY signing what’s contained on the piece of paper in your hand. Contract evil does not necessarily arise out of bad intent or a genuine attempt to defraud. Sometimes it just arises out of stupidity.

Neither option, however, makes a great recommendation for Barnes & Noble or Nook Press as a promising business partner in the future.

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215 responses to “#WRITERS, Barnes & Noble Nook Press Contract Terms are INSANELY Bad!”

  1. Kassandra Lamb Avatar

    I don’t think this is all that worse than Amazon’s contract other than two things. And these things are stupid more than they’re evil (but the ability to use them for evil is there).

    1) Failure to include links to the other documents that are part of the contract. Come on, guys, I’m extremely techno-challenged and even I know how to create a link on my own website!

    2) Giving themselves 20 days to change the price (and they’re only promising to try to do that). What are they doing, carrying the bytes of info from one computer to another via carrier pigeon?

    How can one ever plan a sale if you have no idea when your lowered price will go into effect?

    But I’m not surprised they are such idiots about all this. My books have been on B&N for months and I have designated that they are a series, but on any individual book’s page on B&N there is no mention of the other books.

    In the little over a year since I started self-pubbing I’ve made thousands from Amazon, zip from Smashwords, and a grand total of $39 from B&N. I hate it that Amazon seems to be developing into a monopoly but the bottom line is they know what they’re doing and the others don’t (especially B&N).

  2. Lara Nance Avatar

    In addition to the concerns already listed above, I’m cringing at wording like:
    “We will have the sole discretion in determining all marketing and promotion related to the sale of your eBook through NOOK Press…..in any media now known or later developed, without further need for permission from you and without further royalties or payments to you.” Seriously?? I’m not going to sign something that open regarding my work.

    1. Ray Johnson Avatar
      Ray Johnson

      That’s a wise decision. If I’m reading it correctly, that means they could decide to give away a hundred thousand copies of your book, free, without paying you a cent. Sure, they wouldn’t make money that way – but I’m betting such a freebie would do them more good than it would you. (If they don’t contemplate giving away copies, why specifically exclude any need to pay you royalties – and if they do contemplate it, why aren’t they willing to include a limitation on what they can do?)

      And what if they simply decide to market it in a way you find objectionable? I don’t like this, either. I don’t like the entire thing.

      1. Christopher B. Wright Avatar

        Lara left out a pretty important part of that clause with the ellipses.


        “We will have sole discretion in determining all marketing and promotion related to the sale of your eBook through NOOK Press,”


        “in any media now known or later developed, without further need for permission from you and without further royalties or payments to you.”

        There is this:

        “and you agree that we may use (and allow our contractors and agents to use) THE COVER OF YOUR EBOOK in any and all marketing, promotional, or packaging materials for any software, website, or device through which your eBook is made available or accessible, directly and through multiple channels of distribution,”

        (Caps mine.) The cover of your eBook. It specifically states that what they’re talking about is the cover of your eBook.

        Later in that same section they also reserve the right to distribute and display all front matter and then 5% of the eBook’s content (separate from the front matter) as a sampler.

        Compare that with the KDP agreement. Section 5.2.1:

        “5.2.1 Marketing and Promotion. We will have sole discretion in determining all marketing and promotions related to the sale of your Digital Books through the Program and may, without limitation, market and promote your Digital Books by making chapters or portions of your Digital Books available to prospective customers without charge, and by permitting prospective customers to see excerpts of your Digital Books in response to search queries. We will not owe you any fees for any marketing or promotional efforts. You acknowledge that we have no obligation to market, distribute, or offer for sale any Digital Book, or to continuing marketing, distributing or selling a Digital Book after we have commenced doing so.”

        The main difference between the two? How they describe the environments where marketing will exist. NOOK is focusing on hardware — “we’ll put this on any hardware it’ll fit, even stuff that isn’t invented yet.” Amazon has the same effect by saying “prospective customers.” Not *actual* customers, but if someone could potentially be a customer they’ll market to them. “Hey, people using the new holographic 3d watch computer might read ebooks on it, so we’re going to market to them — that’s a potential customer.” That’s all–they’re both asserting exactly the same privileges when it comes to how they use your content for marketing, of if they will at all.

  3. Russell Blake Avatar

    As an aside, I had most of my books in Select all last year, and noticed an interesting trend when I pulled titles out. Loans would stop (as expected) and sales would replace them. Conversely, when I put a title in that had a decent sales track record, sales would drop by X amount, and loans would replace those units. That makes sense – why pay $5 for a book if you can read it free as a borrow? From Amazon’s standpoint, it makes sense to compensate me $2.25 or whatever as opposed to a buck or two more I would see from a sale.

    The last of my books dropped off Select a few days ago, with most off the program for Feb and March. March was my biggest sale month ever, with 22K+ sales. More importantly, a funny thing happened to my net revenue. It increased by 15% on a per unit basis. So from my perspective, it was costing me 15% of my sales dollars to see all those loans, which were clearly cannibalizing sales. That might not seem like a lot, but when you consider I was seeing couple thousand loans a month, it adds up. As in a lot.

    That’s the only reason I’m not in Select. Purely economic. Smashwords makes me about 5-8% of my total nut at Amazon, but they’re high margin dollars, so I like that. Having said that, I’m a special case, and for authors who aren’t selling as much, or at a lower ASP, it makes a ton of sense to be in Select.

    1. Ray Johnson Avatar
      Ray Johnson

      Although in my opinion the contract Holly is talking about would be a bad deal for anyone, the real lesson here is to read the contract. Carefully. Then, think about your own interests. If it works for you, sign it. If it doesn’t, don’t worry about how many other authors would be happy to get those terms – you aren’t any of those authors.

      The whole idea of any contract is that it’s supposed to be an agreement which benefits both parties. If it isn’t benefiting you, and taking care of your interests, then why sign it? And, if it is, it doesn’t matter who else it isn’t working for. As long as you are being honest and ethical, there is absolutely nothing wrong with watching out for your own interest. As a self-publisher, you have to do that, in fact, because no one else will.

  4. Debbie Avatar

    The only way I’ve ever managed to get customer service out of B&N (to delist an old edition of an ebook they were selling without my permission) was to publicly and repeatedly call them out on twitter. Only then did they bother to answer my emails.

  5. Kevin O. McLaughlin Avatar

    Solved the problem.

    Under the Service Policies referred to in the contract, is this page:

    There you’ll find the answers to the questions asked here.
    1) Royalty is based on publisher list price, not the price B&N sells the ebook for – just like print.
    2) Royalty rates for varying prices are identical to Pubit.

    Why do they mention “service policies” rather than just list royalties in the contract? (Note: KDP does this too.) Mentioning the page in the contract makes it part of the contract; but dividing out the payment part gives the retailer some advantages when it comes to making changes to their terms, if they wish to do so (in this case, changes would automatically take place 30 days after they change the webpage).

    No crisis. The new system is functionally identical to Pubit, which ALSO split the “pricing and payment” page from the main terms of service.

    1. Ray Johnson Avatar
      Ray Johnson

      But that’s the point. The royalty isn’t in the contract. They can change it at will. Think about that for a minute. They can decide “Hey, we’re giving our authors too much in royalties” and cut your rate, just like that.

      If you want to take that risk, it’s your right, of course. But I certainly wouldn’t agree to a contract like that. There are also a lot of other nasty little things in there, but that’s one of the worst, right there. The percentage of royalty is not nailed down; they can change it whenever they feel like.

      1. Michael Coorlim Avatar

        Which, as Kevin points out, is standard practice and zero change from prior policy.

      2. Kevin Avatar

        No, they can’t. The Pricing and Payment Terms are specifically included in the contract Agreement and can only be changed after 30 days notice.

        They are idiots for not properly linking all parts of the contract together so they can be read, but they have made all parts of the contract available, so technically they are clean with this.

        Idiots, but clean.

    2. Dal Jeanis Avatar
      Dal Jeanis

      Kevin – read the bold print, please.

      “We may update or alter the Pricing and Payment Terms at any time and changes will be effective and binding on you on the date thirty days from posting, as described in the NOOK Press Terms & Conditions.”

      In other words, there is no contractual rate, no contractual financial terms at all, and contrast that absence with the contract language that purports to take away your legal right to any redress other than recalculating the amount due, even in case of intentional fraud. It’s hilarious that, after that mound of text that says basically they can withhold your money on any whim they choose, that they elsewhere post notice that the payment terms can also be changed.

      The contract is likely not enforceable as written, given that the contract manifests fraudulent intent, and is a contract of adhesion with a gross disparity in the positions of the parties. If I were considering signing, I’d also carefully review the venue, class action, and arbitration clauses, if any. But the point is, why bother? If I had any works up there, I’d yank them out in a minute and direct my readers elsewhere.

      A supremely stupid move by B&N, who I had hoped would stay less arrogant and overbearing than Amazon. Sigh.

  6. Christopher B. Wright Avatar

    I printed out both this new terms and conditions and stuck it side by side with a print out of the current Amazon KDP terms and conditions. Keep in mind that I am also not a lawyer, and I don’t have a lot of experience with these kinds of agreements. That said, the *only* appreciable difference I can find between the two is that a) B&N doesn’t list how much the author gets paid, and b) Amazon has an extra set of information for KDP Select.

    Both Amazon and B&N reserve the right to sell your book at a different price, at their discretion (5.3.4 in KDP terms). The wording is nearly identical. My experience with Amazon has been that it was done at my loss, especially if they found another service selling the same work for a lower price. And I figured that was the reason for the B&N term as well — if they find that the same work is cheaper on Amazon or Kobo, they will lower the price to match it. That’s what Amazon does now, and their version of this clause is what enables them to do it.

    (I think. As I said, I am not a lawyer.)

    Similarly, Amazon *also* reserves the right to change metadata and art for any reason (5.1.2 in KDP Content Requirements).

    One big plus for Amazon that Nook doesn’t have: they commit to changing to your new price in 5 days.

    There has been a lot of talk about how the B&N terms are bad, but–and again, I want to stress that this is based on my *inexperienced* opinion–they don’t seem any different from the current KDP terms. The thing that I like *least* is that they don’t list the rates authors get, like they used to. However, they do list that information in other places.

    So… are the KDP terms bad too? How do you determine what the line is?

    1. Holly Avatar

      Here’s the line. How sure are you—from the printed copy of the contract you signed—of the terms you agreed to, and you quickly can you get out if terms get worse?

      1. Christopher B. Wright Avatar

        All right, that’s a reasonable line. But what I don’t see is how, if you compare the NOOK and KDP contracts, they wind up on opposite sides of that line.

        All of the terms I’ve heard people complaining about in the NOOK contract are present in the KDP contract. So what makes the KDP contract OK? The fact that more people make money from Amazon?

        That’s a reasonable business decision, I suppose, but that is a calculated risk made *in spite* of the contract terms, rather than informed by those terms. “History suggests that, so far, Amazon has not used any of their terms in a way that unduly impacts self-published authors, so I believe I will probably not suffer from them as well.”

        Last night I started breaking down the agreements side by side, intending to provide a narrative people could use to see exactly how similar they are. Unfortunately I’ll never be able to post it because *both* agreements contain language forbidding you to discuss the terms of the agreement… which you can get away with when talking about a clause or two, but you probably can’t when you’re picking apart both, side by side. But I recommend everyone copy and paste the text of both agreements in separate word documents, put them up side by side, and see how closely the two mirror each other. Some clauses even use the same word-for-word legalese to describe specific circumstances.

        There are differences, and it could be those differences are important, but the terms I’ve seen people criticizing in the NOOK contract also exist in the KDP contract. And if the terms are bad in one, they’re bad in the other.

    2. Jack Avatar

      I’m coming into this discussion really late, but when Amazon changed the price of my book without informing me, I contacted them about it and they said they had the right to do it but that any loss would be incurred by THEM. There is no difference in the amount of royalty I get.
      Again, since this was posted, things might well have been changed, but I guess that’s one big difference between amazon and B&N.

  7. Katharina Gerlach (pen-name, CatGerlach in forum) Avatar

    Is the contract binding for people who sell their books through Smashowrds? Or does Smashwords (as a “bigger” entity) have a different contract? As a non-US citizen, I#ve never been allowed access to B&N, so I was wondering…

    1. kevin Avatar

      That depends on what contract you sign.

      If you sign a contract with Smashwords, that is the contract that is valid for you (and Smashwords has a contract with B+N). However, Smashwords could present the B&N contract for you to sign (Smashwords would then be an Agent).

      If you don’t sign/agree to the contract, it isn’t binding on you, no matter who it is with.

    2. Mark Coker Avatar

      Hi there. Mark from Smashwords here. Smashwords has its own separate, long-standing contract with B&N. It’s a different group within B&N than the Pubit/Nook Press group. The Pubit/Nook Press group services direct uploads from authors and small presses.

      We work with the group that services the large Big 5 publishers. We have an agency contract with B&N. They don’t discount the prices set by our authors and publishers.

      I think the concern about the Nook Press contract is much ado about nothing. Take a look at the KDP contract. If you think Nook Press is onerous (and I don’t think it is), a full read of the KDP contract is an eye opener.

  8. Robert Gregory Browne Avatar

    Being naturally suspicious, I have to believe there’s a reason B&N wants you to opt-in to this new agreement rather than just transfer the old agreements for the name change.

    But I also believe that they are simply breaking Nook off from their brick and mortar stores and trying to create a separate entity. I’m not sure there motives are nefarious and suspect if we scream loud enough, the contract will be more complete in the near future.

    Growing pains.

    1. Robert Gregory Browne Avatar


      hate when i do that.

  9. Toni Anderson Avatar

    Very interesting post. Thanks.

    When Is the cut-off date, Holly? I can’t find it anywhere.

    1. Holly Avatar

      Like many other things, it… ah … isn’t listed.

      1. Ray Johnson Avatar
        Ray Johnson

        Under some circumstances, I might find that funny.

        In this case, it just gives me one more reason to think this contract is a terrible idea.

  10. Dave Avatar

    The B&N contract ‘technically’ doesn’t mean that B&N will do bad stuff. It simply sets the stage for A LOT of bad stuff to happen.

    The real reason to NOT agree to the terms of the B&N contract, is because you shouldn’t do business with any outlet that seeks to (or sets the stage to) diminish the power of the self-publishers. If you let ONE self-pub outlet get away with sneaking bad terms into a contract, it’s just a matter of time until the other outlets consider sneaking bad terms into their contract. And then, it becomes an accepted practice.

    Self-publishers: don’t give up your rights. You have leverage. You don’t have to give in, to bad terms. And, if you find yourself in a position where you don’t know how to fight for your rights, speak out loudly. Someone will help you figure it out.

    1. Holly Avatar

      Very nicely stated.

  11. mh Avatar

    I have informed Barnes and Noble that I find NOOK prices as costly as the print book. I purchased my NOOK to save money not spend more or an equal amount. Their comment was that they would look into the matter. Now I am beginning to see the strategy because I find myself buying more print books. This situation makes one think.

    1. Rich Meyer Avatar
      Rich Meyer

      Why would you expect to save money with a Nook? Or any e-reader for that matter? A book is a book. The same production costs go into a book no matter if it is a DTB or an e-book. The e-reader is just a convenient way to buy and read a book.

      Basically, by buying an e-reader, you’ve just bought all the hardcopy paper copies you’ll ever buy at once, rather than one at a time. You just get to decide later what they’ll happen to be, and you don’t have to plan out your shelf space.

      The Nook would be a poor choice for that no matter the case, since the future of that division of the company is hazy to say the least. B&N is far too petulant and spiteful a company to bother doing business with. No matter what the anti-Amazon detractors may say, a Kindle will probably give you the best value for that money you’re spending, especially if you want low-cost books.

      1. Ray Johnson Avatar
        Ray Johnson

        ” A book is a book. The same production costs go into a book no matter if it is a DTB or an e-book.”

        I don’t think this is accurate at all. Since it is not necessary to purchase paper stock and pay a printer to produce copies of an e-book, or to pay shipping costs to send those hard copies here and there to sit on a shelf waiting to be bought (yes, there are digital delivery costs, but those are minimal next to the price of gas or diesel), then a hard copy must, by necessity, cost a great deal more. Because on top of what the author gets, the cost of cover art, editing, promotion, and so forth – on top of that – you have to pay the printer, buy the paper, oh, and pay the binder, too (not a minor expense), then ship the finished product to where it’s needed.

        I really can’t understand how anyone can imagine it costs as much to produce an e-book as it does to print a physical book. (I admit, I’ve been a printer, so perhaps I think of these things more readily than most.)

        If you’re trying to say the author invests as much in a book no matter what format it is produced in, then I’d agree with you. But production is an entirely different matter.

        1. Deb Gallardo @storyideascoach Avatar

          The only time it costs as much to produce an ebook (minus the paper and printing costs) is if authors are going through a traditional publisher or vanity press. A self-publisher creating only a digital product has virtually zero cost. It’s true that price does not reflect only the cost of production. But in this case, we’re not only saving money, we are saving resources. Why not pass on some of that to the consumer.

          But I have a question to ask of those of you who are currently selling books online that you have published traditionally. Does your publisher dictate your ebook pricing on Amazon/BN, etc.? Or did you or an agent negotiate for you to claim all electronic rights for yourself?

          My reason for asking is a theory I’ve not been able to prove or disprove about ebook pricing on BN and to a lesser degree Amazon. But until I have more information, I hesitate to espouse it.

      2. Amy Avatar

        “A book is a book. The same production costs go into a book no matter if it is a DTB or an e-book.”

        Demonstrably false in many respects. A book consists of paper and cardboard and ink – an e-book consists of a computer file. They may contain the same information, but they are NOT the same thing. Publishers that print paper books have to warehouse those books and pay taxes on any unsold stock. That’s a huge part of why paper books tend to go out of print – they don’t move quick enough so they get pulped to avoid the taxes. None of that is the case for the e-book. Sure, there’s file setup and editing and cover art, but there are none of the costs associated with an actual, physical book.

      3. Jean Avatar

        Mostly, I expect to save money with an ereader over a physical book, because I do not get a tangible object of any value beyond the intellectual property that I can borrow — until the content provider, be it Amazon or B&N decides to remove it from my device. Typically, they do not do this, but they retain that right. Once I buy a physical book, they can’t take it back, and, if I want to, I can sell or give it to another person. To me, that adds inherent value over an ebook.

      4. Holly Avatar

        A book is a book. The same production costs go into a book no matter if it is a DTB or an e-book. The e-reader is just a convenient way to buy and read a book.

        Part of what I teach people to do in my How To Think Sideways course is “how to produce your own epub and print books for under a hundred bucks, with the next ten costing maybe $10 apiece.” If you’re really, really desperate, I show you how to do it for free. Well, you might have to spend $2-3 dollars.

        Ideally, you hire a cover artist, you hire a copyeditor, you hire a book formatter, and you’re out about $500 bucks. And that’s STILL getting your work into PDF, ePub, Mobi (the Kindle format) and a nice trade paperback edition, up on all the big platforms you can reach, and with all the royalties coming back to you monthly, and straight into your bank account.

        But some folks can only afford free, or really damn cheap.

        And on a lot of my own stuff, my production costs were the $50-ish bucks I spent on Scrivener (once), plus a couple bucks for royalty-free cover-art from BigStockPhoto. And my time. Don’t think I discount that.

        So no. A book is not a book. Print books done by commercial publishers are created by a method that is brilliant—if you’re living in 1801. In 2013, it’s financially disastrous.

        What you can create for free, you can sell for cheap, and still make a profit that will sustain your existence. Individual authors can do this. This is MY model.

        Ebooks priced high by publishers are prices that high not to make a profit on the ebooks, but to cripple ebooks so print books done to the 1801 model can survive. And sure enough, there’s news all over the industry that ebook sales have dropped.

        I’m not reporting dropping ebook sales. Mine gain a bit more leverage every time I add a new book. But I don’t buy overpriced ebooks. I don’t by their print counterparts either, because I don’t have any place to put them. (Tiny house). I just find other writers. I’m reading a lot of indie writers now.

        Wool. I recommend the hell out of Wool, by Hugh Howey. He kicks ass.

  12. Theda Black Avatar

    However bad the Customer Pricing is, it’s the same as it was under PubIt!
    Both PubIt! and NOOK Press are vague about payment terms – you have to go to other sections to find out actual numbers. When you do, you’ll find they have the identical figures listed. I have links on my blog.
    However, PubIt! gave themselves 5 days to change your list price, while NOOK Press is much cagier with their language and lists 20 days.

    1. Holly Avatar

      My problem with the customer pricing issue is that it is not even available to read while your signing the contract. How they pay is, or how good the deal is, is a separate issue entirely.

      When I signed the PubIt contract, I was able to read all the clauses and all the details and see what I was signing, IN the document, BEFORE I signed.

  13. Natalie Boon Avatar

    If you’re planning on selling epub files, there’s also Kobo. I found a link on their site, so they do offer that service. Unfortunately, I couldn’t see what their royalty rate was. But this isn’t the actual contract and it may be elsewhere on their site.

    Note, I have not used them, and have only looked at this today. So check it out before you jump. But it IS an option to reach more readers of epubs through a central retailer. Kobos are used in Canada and Europe.

    1. Holly Avatar

      I’ve used them. Use them, at the moment. “Big Waste Of Time” is the phrasing that comes to mind…

      1. Shannon Janeczek Avatar

        Holly, I would say that you need to look into Kobo a bit further before you dismiss them completely. They are the leader in ereader sales throughout the rest of the world — just not here in the US. And, they just agreed to provide ereaders and Kobo books online available in over 400 independent bookstores around the US, their goal being to compete directly with B&N stores. Eventually they hope to be in more than 1,000 independent bookstores.

      2. Margaret Avatar

        You never know…that might change if enough people leave B&N.

      3. Eileen Avatar

        I’ve just bought a Kobo e-reader.
        Why did you find them a waste of time Holly?
        Was it sales volumes?
        Or another reason?

        1. Ruth Avatar

          About kobo:

          As a writer – I don’t know. Never dealt with them.

          As a reader, the kobo website store stinks. You can only buy one book at a time. I do not buy one book at a time, especially as I’m charge fees per card use . . . better to buy a dozen at once 🙂

          OTOH, I got a kobo because they support epub, not a ‘locked’ format as amazon and apple do. (Calibre helps btw, since it will convert between various formats but I find the interface awkward). Format-wars bite, especially when you want to KEEP what you purchased.

          Re B&N contract:

          I am not a lawyer.
          This still sounds insane.
          Crossing them of my list of possibles for ‘if I ever finish…’ 🙂

        2. Holly Avatar

          It takes me a lot of time to upload my books. It takes them a lot of time to get the books on the site. And as of yet, I haven’t been paid. Sales are very small, so I haven’t hit their payout threshhold yet.

          You have to look at your Return On Investment for anything you put time into when you’re working for yourself—and if you’re writing, whether as a commercially published writer or as a self-publishing professional, your time is the only irreplaceable asset you have.

          Spending hours on something that pays slowly and in small increments, or not at all, is wasting the one thing in your life you can’t get more of.

          The only platform other than my own to be provably worth my time is Amazon. Some months, PubIt has looked promising, some months it has been dead.

          Kobo has done so poorly on my test books that I cannot see continuing to pour in time for the return I’d get.

      4. Bronwen Evans Avatar

        I sell more through Kobo than B&N (90% through Amazon). I think more through Kobo as I’m a NZ based author and the Australasian market can’t buy through B&N.

  14. Suzan Tisdale Avatar

    I have been saying it for almost two years now. B&N does NOT want the ebook industry to survive. Instead of trying to stay with the game and improve things all around, they’re like the panicked man drowning who is bringing everything down with him. I know that many people think that Amazon is Satan in disguise, but I disagree with that. No one, and I mean NO ONE treats indie authors as well as Amazon does. B&N doesn’t like us. Period. They think of us as a threat instead of a way to make more money and keep their doors open.

    I did an experiment in the summer of 2011. I pulled my book out of Amazon’s KDP Program and made it available EVERYWHERE: B&N, Apple, Smashwords, Kobo, etc. For two months I had it out there, promoted that it was at ibooks, B&N etc. The results? In those two months, I sold more than 4,000 copies per month at Amazon. The other places? A grand total of 9. Yes NINE copies in two months. It wasn’t worth it. Now, all of my books are KDP select.

    It was impossible to get a human being to help you at B&N. No one to call, and email responses were often two weeks in the making.

    This new contract that B&N offers just proves even more what they think of indie authors and authors in general. I pity the poor soul who doesn’t take the time to read this new contract. I think B&N is shooting themselves in the foot on this one.

    I don’t think you are doing anything to discourage authors from having books on Nook. I would love to be able to offer my books there, but dang it, B&N is just so difficult to deal with and work with. I for one thank you for bringing this to everyone’s attention! Keep up the most excellent work!

    Thank you so very much for breaking this all down for us! ;o) I look forward to following you.

    Suzan Tisdale

    1. Holly Avatar

      I am leery of big companies, but any time I’ve had a problem with one of my ebooks, I’ve been on the phone live with an Amazon representative in less than a minute, and the problem is taken care of right away…or if it isn’t, they keep in direct contact with me until it is.

      I make about ten times as much money from them as I do from B&N. Kobo is proving to be a dismal waste of time.

      My shop does well for me non-fiction-wise, but is not where people go for fiction.

      And if, as someone noted below, B&N is actually going to require folks to sell ebooks on B&N for 20% less than they sell for on Amazon, I CAN’T stay with B&N, because that’s a violation of my Amazon agreement.

      So it’s looking more and more like not even fixing their crappily put-together Terms and Conditions will keep me a Barnes & Noble author.

      1. Hope Welsh Avatar

        I use Amazon for all my books. As a test, I did take them out of the KDP Select program–and saw a drastic reduction in sales overall. I’ve never sold even half-way decent anywhere else.

        At one point, my titles were all available on Smashwords, Amazon, Barnes & Noble…by far, the sales were best on Amazon.

        My main issue with Amazon is that you absolutely can not reach a real person if there is an issue with one of your titles.

        They have wonderful customer service for ‘customers’ but not so great for their ‘authors’ in my experience. I’m not sure how you’ve managed to ever contact a real person about your titles.

        As far as B&N goes–I won’t be signing the new contract, and will be removing the three titles I still have available there.

        I read somewhere that 30% of B&N sales were generated by the sale of ebooks. It would be silly of them to drive away ebook sales. I wonder if it is more they are trying to drive away indie author publishing?

        Someone else in this thread commented that the royalty clause in the contract states the document that is used to determine royalty–but, this must also be considered: They can change a document you don’t sign at any time they like. Policy changes that are not specifically pointed out in the contract terms don’t require a new contract–since they aren’t officially ‘in’ the contract. Thus, stating that referring to the document they list is ‘legally binding’ in a contract doesn’t mean they can’t change it without notice, I don’t believe.

        Personally, I want my contract to specify exactly what percent I’m making for X, Y, and Z price-points. It seems this new contract does not do so.

        As written, royalty percentages could change at any time they see fit, leaving no recourse for those that signed the contract.

        As for my cover–that’s a no-brainer in my opinion. I don’t want a bookstore to determine the cover of my book. I want to determine what my cover design is.

        My main complaint on Amazon is they keep discounting my book to 99cents–when it’s not 99cents ANYWHERE else.

        I’m not sure how anyone would consider the new contract B&N is using would even remotely benefit an author in any way.

    2. Jennifer Avatar


      I can’t second this enough. I know why a lot of indie authors are scared to go with KDP Select, but the added revenue more than offsets what you’ll lose pulling from the other markets.

      Any indie authors who haven’t tried it should at least give it a second look. Ignoring something that can boost your sales that much is like shooting yourself in the foot.

      And no, I don’t work for Amazon, nor do I own stock. I just happen to agree with Suzan that Amazon actually *wants* indie authors to succeed, because that helps them succeed as well. Amazon treats authors better than any other comparable company, and I’ve had no reason to even consider pulling from KDP Select to publish elsewhere.

      1. Tara Chevrestt Avatar

        They want us to succeed? I disagree. They introduced the freebie and with it the mentality that our work should always be free. They got rid of the liking and tagging. They no longer permit authors to review for other authors, even when we’re honest, legit reviewers who have been reviewing far longer than we’ve been writing. And they take 65% cut for doing…NOTHING. I’m sorry but I just had to comment on that. And at some point, we must stop them taking over the WORLD. They are monopolizing, meddling in anything related to books. It’s getting alarming.

        1. Holly Avatar

          From whom do they take a 65% cut?

          For products over $2.99, I pay ’em 30%. And I pay them because they give me access to a wider readership—which may be nothing in your book, but isn’t in mine.

          If you choose to sell your products for less than that, that’s YOUR CHOICE.

          Amazon permits you to offer temporary freebies, if you are so inclined. (I’m not at the moment, but there are marketing advantages in doing so for short periods of time.) B&N requires you to offer freebies 100% of the time to anyone who reads your ebooks inside their store.

          They removed linking and tagging because they were being used to spam and manipulate product rankings, and authors from reviewing because there were a bunch of jackasses (commercial and indie authors alike) who were going to competitors’ pages and writing truly vile reviews.

          If a significant percentage of the population weren’t scumbags, they wouldn’t have had cause.

          And while I resent being barred from commenting on books I loved, and don’t like this restriction, I know why it happened. They’re a business. The actions of some of their partners were hurting their business.

          Like I said elsewhere in these comments, I am leery of big companies. I NEVER make them my only option. (Learned that from dealing with commercial publishers. Fry me once, shame on you…) So I watch Amazon. But at the moment, they remain off my shit list.

          1. Margaret Avatar

            On the review thing, I just posted a review this morning. Sure, I only have one short story published through Amazon right now, but I’m still an author. I reviewed the review rules and there’s no mention of the block, and I have reviews posted from as far back as 2009 that are still there. I heard a lot about the ban on the Web, but didn’t see it anywhere official. Did I miss it?

            1. Phyl Avatar

              I, too, am published, but still able to critique others. I’ve heard from some authors who can’t — it may have to do with having an official author page on a bookstore site, a certain number of sales under your belt, or that there’s just too darn many of us to police all.
              I try to write reviews that are as positive and fair as I can be while maintaining honesty, and I know not everyone comes from that same happy place, which is unfortunate.

            2. Jennifer Avatar


              I’m in agreement with you. I’ve never been banned from posting reviews as a KDP author.

              From Amazon’s Community Guidelines.
              Who can create customer reviews?
              Anyone who has purchased items from Amazon.com. All we ask is that you follow a few simple rules (see “What’s not allowed” below)

            3. Jennifer Avatar

              Just found this on their website as well.

              Are authors and artists allowed to review other authors/artists’ works?
              Authors and artists can add a unique perspective and we very much welcome their customer reviews. However, we don’t allow anyone to write customer reviews as a form of promotion. If you have a direct or indirect financial interest in a product, or perceived to have a close personal relationship with its author or artist, we will likely remove your review.

              So, essentially, Amazon is saying that you can’t post a review saying “This books sucks so you should go read my book ________.”

              1. Hitch Avatar

                …and I’ve posted reviews, stating that I received a book as a gift, which is allegedly (according to “them”) verboten. I’ve done this a number of times, and never had a review removed. We need to pay more attention to what rules actually SAY, and not what “they” THINK that they say.

              2. Holly Avatar

                Margaret has never had her reviews removed. I’ll have to check—I’ve done very few, but I don’t know whether they’ve been removed. Not reviewing for me is not a big punishment, because I never have any time. But there were one or two books lately I’ve really liked that I didn’t even consider reviewing, because I’m an author.

                Margaret did a search of Amazon’s TOS, though, and nowhere in there does it say if you’re an author you can’t review books.

              3. Leona Avatar

                My reviews (and my like buttons, but that may be coincidence?) all disappeared after I made my author amazon page. They do make them disappear. The like buttons are still up when I look at UK site (at least it was a week ago) where I’m not permitted to buy as I have to get through US. So, they do disappear. It was a four star review, with comments on how good the story was, but it wasn’t perfect.
                But I’m not a KDP author. I had a couple self-pubbed before I became published with Breathless Press. Now I just have one self pubbed out and I’ll be pulling that for a different small publisher.

          2. Christopher B. Wright Avatar

            “B&N requires you to offer freebies 100% of the time to anyone who reads your ebooks inside their store.”

            Well, yes, but… if you’re in B&N you can pick up any hard copy book off the shelf and do the exact same thing. You can flip to the end of a mystery and see whodunnit. You can flip to the end of a romance to see if they get together. Etc. I don’t know how it works out in practice, but I can see the *theory* behind this — it promotes the same ability to browse — on the B&N network — that you get from physical books.

            1. Holly Avatar

              Amazon does it with a 10%-of-content front-end preview. Also permits the ability to browse—and I make sure I have real content up front, not a lot of teasers and quotes and recommendations, so people can read the book and not filler.

              I’m in favor of browsing.

              1. Christopher B. Wright Avatar

                B&N also does this on their storefront (at least, it appears based on the terms of the new agreement, that they’re going to) with their claim on using the cover and 5% of the content. It’s in their section on marketing.

                The difference with the “store browsing” term is that it gives someone in a B&N store as much access to the ebook, for browsing purposes, as it does to the print books. That puts the ebook on more even footing with the paperbacks (in the store) because you can evaluate them the same way you do the physical versions–crack the spine and start reading, flip to the end if that’s what you do, etc.

          3. Karen Avatar

            You can only read in BN one hour per book per day and then it expires!

            As a nook owner, I’m always really sad when I see all the indie authors exclusively with Kindle that I would buy in a heartbeat if they were on nook, too.

            Hopefully the wording is still in progress and will be straightened out so that writers will stay with nook!

            1. Holly Avatar

              Having the whole contract included and printable in the part you have to sign would help.

          4. Deb Gallardo @storyideascoach Avatar

            I will say this about reading ebooks in BN stores: the time limit is 1 hour, I believe. I’m a fast reader but I didn’t get close to finished on the one I read. Granted, I could have gone back day after day, but I lived 20 miles from the store. So unless people are actually doing that, reading a story like a serial, I view it as an extended sample.

            That said, I am incensed with BN. I have been rooting for them to compete with Amazon, because it’s not just a big company, it’s a monster-sized company. When one player holds most of the cards, that’s a bad thing. So far they’re playing nice because it’s to their advantage. But I’m just as leery of Amazon as any other big business. But…

            I specifically asked for a Nook Color instead of a Kindle Fire because I wanted to support BN. Now I feel betrayed. And I feel like an idiot.

        2. Hitch Avatar

          With all due respect, Amazon only introduced the “freebie” when harangued and harassed by AUTHORS to allow them to create giveaways, like they could do at Smashwords. Has it created an egregious unintended consequence? YES. But it was not, absolutely, Amazon’s idea to invent a way for them to expend their resources, server space, etc., to give YOU all that free traffic and NO revenue to themselves for the freebies. Authors posted daily on the KDP fora about how they were putting their books up for $0.00 on Smashwords and then “reporting themselves” to FORCE Amazon to price-match to Zero. They GLOATED about it. And you blame Amazon for creating the Select program? That they pay for, entirely, with the proceeds of the PRIME program? Their OWN money? No prime member is paying for those borrows–Amazon is paying for those borrows out of their own pocket. No, no: people want to blame Amazon for the Select program need to look in the mirror. It was AUTHORS who screamed and begged and connived to get such a program. In this world, be careful what you wish for.


          1. Holly Avatar

            No SHIT!

            And thanks for posting that.

        3. Jennifer Avatar


          I’m sorry, but your comments are simply incorrect. You’ve been obviously been poorly informed about Amazon’s KDP Select policies, but you really should try to collect accurate information before posting.

          Your royalty depends entirely upon which royalty program you choose. As long as you price your book between $2.99 and $9.99, you can opt for the 70% royalty rate. Saying that Amazon takes 65% royalty is, quite frankly, just flat out dishonest.

          Your entire post sounds a bit hysterical honestly. Taking over the world? Really? If the rest of the publishers would treat their authors half as well as Amazon does, I’d be perfectly content for them to take over the world.

          1. Leona Avatar

            You can only “opt” for the 70% royalty rate. Last I checked it was more than $30 US/book. I don’t like the looks of this B&N contract, but neither is Amazon a savior. And, you only get paid when you meet the minimums in EACH of their sites. So, if you have 9,50 at UK, 6.90 at indias, 9.99 at ca, 9.35 at de, you will get paid nothing. Sounds like it’s this way with B&N as well. I think, as was stated, when this bad of contract is seen, that we need to speak out against it. Lowering or raising prices when you have no stake in it, seems a bit dicey to me, among other things.

            1. Holly Avatar

              No. Amazon ISN’T a savior, and this is why I recommend each writer have his own shop, where he can sell his own work. There are no saviors out there. There are only businessmen with contracts that favor them over you. And as long as you realize any option but your own shop has thorns, you can keep your mind clear to select the best of many dubious offerings.

      2. Suzan Tisdale Avatar

        ;o) My first book, Laiden’s Daughter, is 99 cents. I actually get paid more for it when it is borrowed through the Kindle Lending Library. That baffles me that people would borrow a 99 cent book, but I’m okay with it!

        My KDP Liaison and I have had this discussion on numerous occasions. Amazon truly does want indie authors to succeed. Its a win win for everyone. Amazon is forward thinking, B&N not so much.


    3. M.P. McDonald Avatar

      Thank you for sharing your numbers. I’ve been working towards pulling my books out of Select. The last one comes out in about six weeks–but now I’m wondering if I should just stick with it? I was looking forward to getting my books back onto B&N, because I know some people do well there but with their new program, I’m very hesitant.

      1. Holly Avatar

        I haven’t used Select, ever, so I have absolutely no useful information to offer you. I do know it’s starting to tempt me.

        1. Suzan Tisdale Avatar

          ;o) I love the program. Like I posted above, I get paid more for Laiden’s when it is borrowed than when it is purchased. But I could be biased. ;o)

  15. Deborah Teramis Christian Avatar

    Thanks for spotlighting this baloney, Holly. I’d received their announcement but not yet gotten into any fine print. I’ve been on the fence about them for a while, but this is the capper. I too am going to pull my books from B&N and sell epub versions direct through my own storefront for those who want ’em. Especially in view of that egregious “we can set the price to whatever we want it to be” offensiveness, there’s just no way I’ll do biz with a company like this.

    1. Holly Avatar

      It was because of Barnes & Noble and Kobo (I ditched Apple when I couldn’t get them to accept WARPAINT), and wanting to support multiple platforms, that I have never put anything of mine into KDP Select.

      Multiple platforms mattered to me. They’re beginning to matter a whole lot less.

      I’m about to give KDP Select serious consideration.

      1. Jennifer Avatar


        I understand why a lot of people would be hesitant to go with KDP, but, in my experience, the revenue you gain from going with KDP will more than offset any money you lose by pulling from the lesser markets. And, of course, it’s only a three-month commitment, so you can always go back to the other publishers if it doesn’t work for you.

        I’d seriously give KDP a second look.

        1. Jennifer Avatar

          Sorry, that should have been KDP Select, not just KDP.

  16. Zola Avatar

    I stopped giving business to BN about four years ago when I had an issue with an order. I paid $70 for books, I got no books and no refund. I asked their customer service rep outright if keeping my $70 was worth losing my business permanently, and apparently it was.

    They don’t care about their customers and they clearly don’t care about authors either. I have no objection to them making money, but this kind of crap is what’s going to drive them out of business, and the sooner the better as far as I’m concerned.

  17. dafaolta Avatar

    B&N has the worst search function of any sales website I’ve seen. I’ve been complaining to them for at least 3 years and I get the standard ‘thank you for your input’ response. Not being able to find titles unless mys spelling is exactly what they have in their files is no way to run a bookstore (and this applies to print or ebook titles/authors). I quote the response I pulled up when looking for the 3rd Hunger Games book (typed in as Mocking Jay) it got me 3 titles that had nothing to do with it. Their search still sucks because, even when I do have the exact title, they rank thing by ‘top matches’ and that frequently doesn’t include the title I’m looking for within the top 5. *That* is the main reason I’m already leery of using their service.

    Their website tells me their coders are sloppy. The contract tells me their lawyers assume we’re sloppy. Given some of the contracts people sign, they’ve got reason to hope so. Anyone who signs a contract without a lawyer is a fool.

  18. Raymund Eich Avatar

    I also note the author grants B&N a “a non-exclusive, worldwide, irrevocable right and license to make your eBooks available for sale…” (Section 7). I also note that the Term and Termination paragraph (Section 2) expressly states that Section 7 survives termination. So even if you terminate the agreement, you cannot revoke the license you granted B&N to sell your books.

    1. Holly Avatar

      Oh, yeah. Spotted that, too. But I was so pissed off about the absence of hard numbers in the terms and conditions I forgot to mention it. THANK YOU for bringing that up.

    2. Julian Adorney Avatar
      Julian Adorney

      I missed that part, Raymund. Holy crap. It’s not as bad as handing them the copyright, but a clause like that isn’t good.

    3. kevin Avatar

      It isn’t that bad.

      The intent is to allow whem to distribute copies to people who have already bought the book. Under Section 2, they must stop selling your book within 10 business days of you terminate the agreement. However, if people who have already bought the book lose their nook, or move to a new device, they may want to re-download the book from Nook, and section 7 is to allow that.

      I don’t particularly appreciate the wording, but legally they can’t sell the book beyond 10 days after the agreement is terminated. They can only re-distribute previously sold copies

      1. Jennifer Avatar

        It doesn’t matter what the intent behind the clause is. As Holly and many other people keep saying, if it isn’t in the contract, it doesn’t matter. The intent behind a clause doesn’t matter, only what’s written in black and white on the page (or screen).

        1. kevin Avatar

          Under the contract, they may not sell any copies of your work 10 days after the contract is terminated. They may distribute copies to previous customers.

          That is what it says in the contract.

          1. Michelle Avatar

            It says “make your ebooks available for sale.” That’s not an option to make them available for download by a previous buyer, that’s an option to make them available for sale. If they want to make them available for download to a confirmed purchaser, they need to say that in the contract. I highly doubt it’s a mistake that the contract does not say that.

            If it says elsewhere in the contract that they must stop selling a book within ten days of the author terminating their contract, then the contract contradicts itself.

            That’s not great for either party, but a lot worse for the individual who can’t afford a team of well paid corporate lawyers.

            1. Jennifer Avatar

              In Section 2, it does say that they will stop selling your ebook within 10 days of termination of the contract. However, this clause and Section 7 directly contradict each other. This does not give me warm fuzzies about the competence of the law school dropout that put together this fine document. I suppose having Section 2 directly contradict Section 7 is better that nothing, but it definitely shows me that B&N does not have its ducks in a row.

              1. Christopher B. Wright Avatar

                Jennifer, there’s not much difference between Section 7 of the Nook agreement and Section 5.5 of the KDP agreement. the Amazon agreement *does* add a ‘throughought the term of this agreement’ modifier in its language… however, in Section 3 of the Amazon agreement it specifically says that section 5.5 will survive the termination of the agreement, so I don’t know that the extra language does much.

              2. Kevin Avatar

                Actually, I don’t believe does contradict. It is legaleze so a lawyer should really check my work, but IIRC having a license to sell something does not necessarily mean you are permitted to sell that thing (yes, I know, WTF???).

                There are a number of rights granted with a licence (can’t remember the exact details), among which is typically permission to sell the item. But you can grant a person a license to sell and specifically forbid them to sell. I give you a license to sell my cars, but don’t give you any cars to sell, as an extreme example. Or I say “don’t sell them until X time”. Or I say “don’t sell them at all”. Section 2 specifically gives up the right to sell your work 10 days after terminating the contract.

                Another way to look at it is that Section 2 overrides part of section 7 (though this isn’t technically correct).

              3. spredo Avatar

                I am with Kevin on this one, although I am not a lawyer either.
                To me, this just sounds like “we will take care of our customers, and ensure they will ALWAYS have access to books they buy from us”.

            2. Christopher B. Wright Avatar

              Michelle the contract specifically states that if they stop selling an ebook they reserve the right to keep a copy onhand so it will continue to be avaialble to people who have already purchased the book:

              “E.  eBook Withdrawal.  You may withdraw your eBook from sale on NOOK Press using the procedures for eBook withdrawal as listed on our website. If you request that a eBook be withdrawn from sale, Barnes & Noble will make commercially reasonable efforts to terminate the future sale of your eBook by the tenth (10th) business day after you submit your request for withdrawal, provided however that Barnes & Noble shall continue to be able to distribute such eBook to past purchasers of that eBook.”

              The part Kevin is referring to:

              “provided however that Barnes & Noble shall continue to be able to distribute such eBook to past pruchasers of that eBook.”

              They reserve the right to make the eBook available to customers who have already bought it. I see nothing unreasonable about that.

              Honestly, if the Nook contract is as bad as everyone says it is, then we should be boycotting the KDP agreement as well because there’s not a lot of difference between them.

        2. Pete Avatar

          What kevin is saying is that there is another clause of the contract that must be read in conjunction with the offending clause, and when so read, it means what he says it means. This is true – it is an indelible rule of contract construction, and to the extent there is any ambiguity, the ambiguity is read against B&N, the drafter of the contract.

        3. Dal Jeanis Avatar
          Dal Jeanis

          No, Jennifer. It’s not just the plain words of one clause. There are three rules of contract construction that govern the interpretation of disputed contract language. The same rules for apply for interpreting laws.

          First, there is the manifest intent of the parties. No one can claim with a straight face that an author intended to give permanent rights to distribute the work for sale, given that there is direct language that says otherwise. (The equivalent for laws is the expressed intent of the legislature in writing the law.)

          The second general rule of contract construction says “the specific overrules the general”.

          Compare these two statements. Which is more specific?

          2. If you terminate this Agreement, we will cease selling your eBooks within ten (10) business days from our receipt of your notice, but we will retain the right to maintain digital copies of your eBook to continue to support our customers who have purchased your eBook.

          7. You hereby grant to Barnes & Noble, its distributors, licensees and partners a non-exclusive, worldwide, irrevocable right and license to make your eBooks available for sale, marketing, display, distribution and promotion in any commercially available electronic or digitized format or on any electronic device platform whether now existing or hereafter created or developed.

          The first looks much more specific to me than the second, so they must stop selling within ten days of termination. Some other rights may survive indefinitely – and the intention statement at the end of clause 2 says why.

          The third mjor rule of contract construction is that a judge will not interpret a contract in a manner that renders a contract term meaningless. If terminating the contract does not end B&N’s right to sell the work, then what does “terminate” mean?

          The easiest way to harmonize the two clauses is to state that your choice to terminate the agreement via Statement 2 eliminates the word “sale” and possibly “distribution” from clause 7, retaining only those rights reasonably necessary to effect the intention statement at the end of clause 2.

          An alternate (bogu) attempt to harmonize the two clauses would say that B&N could not sell a terminated work, but all the other listed entities could continue to do so. This would be a bad argument for B&N to make, since if they made that argument, you could counterargue that there ws no “meeting of the minds”, so no contract can exist. That has the potential to leave B&N in a world of hurt with their customers (your readers).

          Actually, what I wrote as the first rule is really the fourth rule, and the first rule should be “read the plain language as written”. But, anyway, B&N clearly can’t sell your work after you terminate the contract.

          So terminate quick.

    4. Elizabeth McCoy Avatar
      Elizabeth McCoy

      Wait, what? I mean, allowing previous purchasers to re-download the book they bought is necessary on the customer side, but /continue to SELL/?

  19. Sylvia Avatar

    Thanks, Holly. I agree, bad contract. And you’re right, if it is not part of the contract you signed, it doesn’t exist. And, 🙂 RNFrancis, I long ago decided I would never sign for or risk anything for a friend if I was not willing to lose it to preserve the friendship. B&N is not necessarily my friend.

  20. Cathy Clamp Avatar


    I don’t know if you happened to notice this part in the Payment section:

    “If we pay you in a currency other than the Sale Currency, we will convert the Royalties due from the Sale Currency to the payment currency at an exchange rate we determine, which will be inclusive of all fees and charges for the conversion”

    For example, if the sale currency is in Euros and the payment currency is US Dollars, nowhere does it state it will use any sort of known foreign currency exchange rate (such as Forex or OANDA). In effect, it could pick any rate of exchange at all. We can HOPE they would use a standard exchange, but it’s not required.

    I’ve been reviewing both the Nook and Kindle contracts for a workshop I’m giving at RT on contracts. This is only one of a number of issues I’ve discovered in the reading of them. There’s some very scary stuff in these that authors need to know about.

    1. Holly Avatar

      I read the whole thing a couple of times, printed it off, read it again on paper, said bad words, and then wrote this.

      So, yeah, I saw that. I didn’t include everything that was wrong with the contract. I didn’t even include everything that was Evil in the contract. I just hit the elements that were, from the point of view of someone who’d intended to sign the damn thing, Insanely Evil.

    2. kevin Avatar

      Note that Barnes and Noble doesn’t use Forex or OANDA to exchange currency.

      Big companies try very hard to not exchange currency. They will shuffle their money internally, so people who get paid in US dollars get their money from people who pay in US dollars (and substitute and currency for US dollars in the above sentence). When they do exchange currency, it is usually very large transfers (and may involve forward contracts or other complicated financial instruments). Thus, they have internal “rates of exchange” that will roughly follow the external rates, but not exactly match.

      It is a major pain in the backside for them to track Forex exchange rate for individual transactions. It also exposes them to foriegn exchange timing issues (losing money on foriegn exchange timing). So they cheat and use their internal rates “at a convenient time”. It will hover close to the official rate (and I suspect there will be a “processing fee” that will ensure it is below the official rate).

      Would be nice if they periodically post their rates, but they are not (obviously) out to screw people. They are just trying to reduce their own costs.

      1. Jennifer Avatar

        The problem is that it doesn’t say anything about that in the contract. According to the exact letter of the contract, they could decide that the Euro converts to the USD at $0.25 instead of a more realistic $1.20 or $1.30 (or wherever the exact exchange rate happens to float on any given day). All it says is that the exchange rate will be determined by B&N, not that it will be in any way, shape, or form a reasonable exchange rate.

        1. kevin Avatar

          You are absolutely right, however they can’t/won’t put that in the contract because it will tie their hands too much. They put the weasel words in to protect themselves from forex headaches.

          My point was they didn’t put it in to deliberately screw people, they put it in to protect themselves. That it could be used to screw people is always a possibility, but that isn’t the intent

          1. FeliciaFredlund Avatar

            The problem is that when you sign a contract, you can NOT rely on intent. Because they don’t have to follow intent, they just have to follow the contract. Aka they can exchange at any rate and you can’t protest because you signed.

            You have to rely on the words they use, that is the way of contracts. For someone like me, who’s from Sweden, I might have currency exchanges in my future, which means that this clause makes me want to run away.

            If they want people to sign contract, they should make the contract beneficial for the signer too. With those words they could exchange currencies anyway they want, and we can’t say no. So it matters, even if they probably won’t exchange with crazy rates.

          2. Jennifer Avatar

            Can you honestly say that you’ve gotten into the head of whatever illiterate lawyer wrote that contract and know what their intent was? If so, you should be making your living as a psychic. The fact is that this contract makes it possible for them to screw authors and the author would have no recourse. I don’t sign contracts that make it possible for someone to screw me over. If someone else chooses to, then that’s their business. I never assume good intent by the other party when I’m signing a contract. The only thing you can assume is what is spelled out in the document you’re signing. What’s spelled out here is that they choose the exchange rate. No thank you. Makes me glad I use KDP Select and don’t have to deal with B&N’s crap.

            1. Kevin Avatar

              I have just seen similar clauses in other contracts, and spoken with the folks who wrote them. And I have yet to see a non-trivial contract without at least one clause that can be used to screw over at least one of the parties. If you have managed to avoid this, you have my heartiest congratulations.

              1. Kevin Avatar

                btw, have you agreed to the EULA for any of the software you are using to access the web?
                Have you read the crap that goes into them?

    3. Kat Avatar

      I saw “the exchange rate we determine” clause as well; since I am studying Forex, that got my attention. Not only does B&N not specify if B&N/third parties will use the CBOE or other recognized financial standard for Forex,the clause also gives you no way to determine if their maths are even correct, in sums and percentages. They can say “well, we sold it on sale in Iceland for the equivalent of $5.00, but with the exchange rate at time of sale, and the fees of transferring and converting currency, your royalty is 0.04 cents.
      Not good.
      Did some intern write this contract?

  21. Lori Robinett Avatar

    As I said previously, it looks like a bad contract. I agree with Holly – if it’s not in the contract, it doesn’t matter. The royalty issue should be covered in the contract.

    As a reader, I have a Nook. So does my daughter. I LOVE it. Carry it with me everywhere. And have purchased several e-books because I was able to read free in-store. Started the e-book, liked it and bought it. We chose the Nook over the Kindle specifically because B&N is a brick-and-mortar store. I like being able to walk in and get help if I have a problem with the Nook (can’t do that with a Kindle), I like being able to browse free in-store and it was a way for me to support a local business instead of the faceless Amazon behemoth. Just a couple of things for authors to consider as they weigh their options.

    1. Jennifer Avatar


      Although I love local businesses and am all for supporting them, B&N is no more a local business than Amazon, nor is it less a behemoth than Amazon. They’re both huge multinational corporations, Amazon just happens to be the far more successful corporation. I’d submit that there’s a reason Amazon is more successful than B&N–more respect for their customers and their authors.

      B&N does have brick and mortar stores, I’ll give you that. If that’s important to you, then of course you should shop there instead of Amazon. However, if I have a problem with an Amazon order, it has always been corrected the very next day. B&N, not so much…

      Not meant to be argumentative. Just pointing out that B&N is hardly a the equivalent of a LBS.

      1. Lori Robinett Avatar

        Totally agree that B&N is not like an LBS. But it does hire local people to work in the local store. And the couple of times I’ve had trouble with my Nook, I’ve been able to walk in and get assistance (once when the Nook froze due to a bad battery – which they replaced free of charge, and once when a book I purchased didn’t show up in my Library – which they immediately fixed).

        Not trying to be argumentative, either . . . just wanted to share a reader’s perspective.

  22. kevin Avatar

    Re-reading the whole thing, I am more convinced it isn’t quite as bad as it seems at first.

    Looking at it from “the other side of the fence”, B+N is (hopes to be) dealing with 1000’s of books at a time. Are they going to be modifying covers of these book on a whim? Not a chance, they don’t have the time or resources. Are they going to autocrop or otherwise automatically adjust things to fit their equipment/processes better. Of course they are. Are they going to color adjust/greyscale things for marketing purposes? Most likely. Do they want to take the time to go back to the author and say “May I?”, every time they do this? No. Better would be to have the book pass a “submission test” to ensure the book would fit into their processes properly, and have standard covers for their different needs, but that may not be technically feasible. In any case, you can always remove your book (and possibly resubmit it with changes you are happier with). This isn’t evil, this is what they have to do to deal with 1000’s of books at a time.

    Similarly, the 20 days to update prices. Sure, updating 1 book price takes 10 seconds. Now take 1000 authors sending updates for 10 books (on average). How many staff do they hire to do this (likely 1 person). It probably could/should be automated, but my guess is there still is a person in the loop, and they require some time. Annoying, but not evil.

    Free reading in stores, free reading of 5% etc, is all their standard marketting tools. You want to sell through Nook, you live with their marketting. Again, there is nothing about this that is evil.

    The splitting up of the payments information into a different document is dumb on their part, but it is all part of the contract (specifically referenced in the earlier parts of the terms and conditions, should have had a link). It is all legally binding, and doesn’t appear too bad, as I mentioned in a previous post.

    I am not a lawyer (nor a self-published author, for that matter), but the contract doesn’t seem so terrible to me. YMMV

    1. M.P. McDonald Avatar

      Updating a price shouldn’t take 20 days no matter how many books there are. I just changed a price on Amazon this morning. It took less than 2 hours for it go live.

      1. kevin Avatar

        You are right, it shouldn’t take 20 days, and I really doubt it will. However, I suspect their software doesn’t do things fully automated, so, like the standard “6-8 weeks for shipping” (when the package arrives within a week), they are being over-cautious with the time.

  23. Yolanda Allen Avatar

    Thanks Holly for posting this…I will be taking my books down from B&N…I wasn’t selling much on there anyway!

    1. Holly Avatar

      I make between two or four hundred dollars a month from them, which is enough to pay a couple bills, so this is not a free decision for me.

      Pulling my books, I’ll make nothing.

      Not pulling my books, I’ll be signing a dreadful contract, with uncomfortable ambivalence, legalese in the place of hard numbers, and the certain knowledge that the document I sign is the only one that counts.

      I’d rather make nothing than deal with folks who won’t put all their cards on the table in the document I’m signing.

      1. Julian Adorney Avatar
        Julian Adorney

        Have you tried calling them to nail down a specific royalty percentage? It’s possible if you threatened to pull your business they’d make an addendum to the contract for you, offering a stated royalty percentage. If you’re lucky, they might even agree to keep your list price sacrosanct.

        Maybe not, but I’ve found some companies (even huge ones) are willing to bend over backward to avoid losing a client. Could be worth making a call.

  24. Ren Avatar

    The sky is not falling. The terms of service are being amended to reflect the death of Agency Pricing: “Big Publishers aren’t allowed to tell us we can’t have a sale, and neither are you.” They’re not going to hunt you down and break your kneecaps if your book is cheaper on Amazon–they’re just going to price match, same as everybody does. I’ve compared line by line to the old BN agreement and to agreements with seven other distributors and found nothing out of line with standard operating procedure, nothing more ambiguous than is typical in any legal document.

    There’s certainly nothing to warrant cutting off a distribution channel to spite the 28% of my readers who buy from B&N.

    That being said, nobody should do business with anyone they think exists only to screw them over, so yank away if it makes you feel more secure.

    1. Holly Avatar

      Where did you find a version of the contract that includes the royalty rates, payment procedures, and all the rest in the document you actually sign? Until I can read and sign THAT document, this is a no-go.

      1. kevin Avatar

        from the “terms and conditions”

        “Your use of NOOK Press is governed by the following terms and policies: (a) the terms of this Membership Agreement and Terms of Use set forth below; (b) the Pricing and Payment Terms; (c) the Content Policy; (d) the Barnes & Noble e-Bookstore Program Terms; (e) the Barnes & Noble website Terms of Use; and (f) the Barnes & Noble Privacy Policy (collectively, the “Agreement”).”

        Note that (b) specifically references the Pricing and Payment Terms, which has been posted previously and contains how much you will be paid for each book sold.

        It is all part of the contract.

        1. Holly Avatar

          Show me where you can read it when you’re signing…because the version they put in front of me had a box for signing, but no links to any missing parts of the contract.

          If you’re signing blind on a contract that does not contain the clauses you are agreeing to, all you’re agreeing to is the document you can see.

          1. kevin Avatar

            I can only go with what is on the Nook website, I can’t see what document they put in front of you.

            If what they gave you to sign matches


            then they are idiots for not putting the:

            Pricing and Payment terms
            Content Policy
            Barnes & Noble e-Bookstore Program Terms
            Barnes & Noble website Terms of Use
            Barnes & Noble Privacy Policy

            all in front of you at the same time, because they are ALL legally part of the same contract (the “Agreement”) you are signing. These are specifically referenced as part of the agreement in para 2.

            Not making these available would be the stupidity of whomever passed you the document, not Barnes and Noble (and I suspect the B&N lawyers would throw a fit if they heard B&N staff were handing out partial contracts to sign).

            1. Pete Avatar

              Contracts refer to other documents all the time. It’s called “incorporation by reference.” So the other provisions they refer to do become “part” of the contract – it’s lazy/sloppy of them to inconvenience potential vendors in this way, but it does not alter the legal significance of the incorporation by reference.

            2. Dottie Taylor-Lillie J. Roberts Avatar

              I looked over the entire contract from the above link but still could not discern a royalty percentage… isn’t that like signing a blank check? Is it somewhere else? I’m new this, but this contract scares me.

  25. Danzier Avatar

    I’m getting an error 404 when I try to follow the link. Hopefully someone realized the thing needed help and is fixing it.

    1. Laurie Avatar

      Danzier, if you’re talking about Kevin’s link above (http://cp-barnesandnoble.kb.net/kb/?ArticleId=4310&source=Article&c=12&cid=28#tab:homeTab:crumb:7:artId:4262), it worked for me just now. Just wanted to let you know!

  26. Doug Glassford Avatar

    If it’s not one thing it’s another with B&N. Like others here, I almost bought a Nook, but opted for a new laptop instead. My choices for reading formats are maximized, but I lose out when it comes to ‘real’ portability.

    Thanks for always looking out for us Holly, you’re the best.

  27. Marianne Avatar

    I am happy my son gave me a Kindle now 😉

  28. Yog-Sothoth Avatar


    “We will use [b]commercially reasonable efforts[/b] to effect any change in List Price you provide to us within twenty (20) days following the date on which you submit it.”

    I’m curious to know what “commercially reasonable efforts” means. Given that changing the list price probably involves merely changing some data in a database, I’d be very surprised if “reasonable efforts” didn’t result in your list price being updated within the twenty days. I suspect this is just legalese to cover B&N’s corporate butt in the case of a major computer disaster or something.

    “…you are required to make 100% of your book available for free to anyone reading on a Nook in one of their stores…”
    Hmm. Could be good, if there is a cafe inside the B&N. They download the book, read the first chapter while drinking their cappuccino, then have to pay if they want to continue. You may get some people hanging around B&N and reading your whole book for free, but I think this *might* result in more sales.

    All this could simply be lawyers doing what they what they are paid to do, i.e. look out for their clients’ interests. However, when they do this, they frequently don’t take the other sides’ interests into account, and wind up injuring the client by driving away people who would otherwise be doing business with their client.


    Marketing guru Dan Kennedy says that the one thing a hot-dog stand needs to succeed is hungry customers. That’s why they hang around outside public events like football games: that’s where the hungry customers are! Right now, I think the hungry customers for eBooks are on Amazon Kindle. That’s a good enough reason not to bother with B&N IMHO. If their market is small, and they’re going to be difficult, why deal with them?

    1. Heather Justesen Avatar

      And have you noticed how inhospitable B&N is now for people to come in and read? All of the cushy chairs are gone, and the wooden ones that are left are in the middle of the store, right by walkways, as if to discourage people from sitting down to read. And if you were going to have your paper books in B&N, people could sit and read the whole thing if they wanted, just like they can on the Nook if they’re in the store, so I don’t see that as a problem. Some of the other stuff, though. Yeah. Not happy about it.

      1. Jean Avatar

        I noticed that last time I was in there, too. Big difference in ambiance.

  29. Necia Phoenix Avatar

    I saw their little notice when I went over to pubit the other day. I was very…displeased with this development, but since in the near 2 years I’ve been pubbing, I’ve made a whopping 2 sales through B&N I’m not too sad about yanking my stuff. The way they’ve been going, well I’ve been tempted to pull my work anyways.

    Thanks for this.

  30. Judy corduan Avatar
    Judy corduan

    A friend of mine talked me into buying a nook a couple of years ago. I didn’t like their sales policies then for readers. As a reader I found amazon to be so much more user friendly and cost friendly. May Barnes and noble lose all their business to amazon. And I can see B&N is not a publishing company I’d care to do business with. The e-book is here to stay and growing by leaps and bounds. A company that doesn’t support the changes in the digital age will lose out, and those associated with them will lose out with them. Hasta la vista, B&N.

  31. PJ Avatar

    This little bit is great, too:

    “If we pay you in a currency other than the Sale Currency, we will convert the Royalties due from the Sale Currency to the payment currency at an exchange rate we determine, which will be inclusive of all fees and charges for the conversion.”

    Instead of stating that royalties will be paid at the exchange rate on the day of calculation or whatever, they say it is at a rate *they* determine, and includes all the fees, too, because you know, it’s such a burden on them as a company that sells in other countries to deal in multiple currencies.

    And one other thing jumped at me. How does one “return” an ebook? Now, if you are offering print copies as well, this makes sense, but the language of the contract should reflect that.

    This *is* a bad contract. I’m not a lawyer either, but my mother always said I had been dealt a large helping of common sense. The key to not getting burned by legalese is not to read it from the POV of what you want it to say, but what you don’t want it to say.

    And in just these snippets shared by Holly, there is a lot I wouldn’t want. Thanks for sharing this!

    1. Laurie Avatar

      Just FYI… I have a Kindle, and am able to return any eBook I purchase within 7 days of purchase. When I do this, it disappears from both my Kindle itself and my Kindle library (held in the “cloud” for me by the kind folks at Amazon).

      Now this obviously opens up Amazon and the authors to abuse… i.e. I can read most any book within 7 days and return it for a full refund. At that point, both Amazon and the author lose the profits from the original sale. I’m the honest type, so I don’t do this, and I don’t know if Amazon flags the accounts of folks who continually buy and return eBooks. Nevertheless, it IS possible to return a Kindle eBook… dunno know what B&N’s return policy is.

  32. kevin Avatar

    I am not sure it is entirely as terrible as you say.

    The Royalty terms are in a different document (which is not nice, but not terribly evil). Also, if I read it correctly, you get paid based on YOUR list price, not what THEY sell it at. Therefore, if they discount your book, you DON’T get a pay cut, they do. If they jack up your price, they screw themselves because they show YOUR list price along with their price. Are they going to show their price higher than list? Really?

    I copied the Pricing and Payment terms below. They should really both be together in the same contract, but that doesn’t make it evil, just foolish.

    Pricing and Payment Terms

    We may update or alter the Pricing and Payment Terms at any time and changes will be effective and binding on you on the date thirty days from posting, as described in the NOOK Press Terms & Conditions.

    Publisher will select a List Price for each NOOK Book between $0.99 and $199.99. An equivalent price in GBP (£) will be auto-calculated according to that day’s exchange rate for NOOK.co.uk sales. Publisher has the option to manually input the price in GBP.

    Publisher will be paid a royalty off the List Price in USD according to the following terms:

    For NOOK Books with a List Price at or between $2.99/£1.50 and $9.99/£7.99
    65% of the List Price

    For NOOK Books with a List Price at or below $2.98 /£1.49, or at or greater than $10.00/£8.00 (but not more than $199.99/£120.00 and not less than $0.99/£0.75)
    40% of the List Price

    Publisher will, at all times, ensure that the NOOK Book List Price:

    1. Is no greater than the eBook’s List Price at any other retailer, website, or sales channel.
    2. Is no greater than the eBook’s print edition (if applicable).
    3. Complies with the minimum and maximum pricing policy as stated above.

    Sample royalty calculation:

    1. List Price: $9.99 – Publisher Royalty: $6.49
    2. List Price: $20.00 – Publisher Royalty: $8.00
    3. List Price: £6.99 – Publisher Royalty: £4.54
    4. List Price: £10.00 – Publisher Royalty: £4.00

    1. Doug Glassford Avatar

      Thanks for the delving further for us, Kevin. I am going to have to re-read and sort this all for myself.

    2. Holly Avatar

      Okay. Again, from having had to deal with contracts for years, there IS evil in signing an agreement that does not contain exact terms within it—and when you check that little box and agree to the terms, you are signing a legally binding document.

      You AGREE TO THE BLANK CHECK. They can then change ANYTHING that is not in the agreement, and you have agreed to it, and have no recourse. And it is significant, and very ugly, that you cannot see the existing terms to which you are agreeing before you agree.

      1. Vanessa Wells Avatar
        Vanessa Wells

        Also, this directly competes with the agreement for Kindle. In order to get their 70% royalty, you have to guarantee that your Kindle e-book sells for 20% less on Amazon than it does on any other site. By giving Barnes and Noble the same price, your royalty on Kindle (with its much larger customer base) would be reduced to 35%.

        1. wednesday Avatar

          So if an author agrees to sell the Kindle book for 20% less on Amazon (per B&N demand), then B&N can price match the author’s book down 20% on B&N…in which case the author must drop her Kindle price to 20% less than that…and it becomes a revolving door requiring the author to price her books ever lower? That’s crazy. It sounds like a scenario from a bad horror novel where demons rule a major bookstore. Oh, wait….

        2. Holly Avatar

          Link, please? Amazon’s terms simply state that you have to offer your stuff at the same price everywhere. If you don’t, you’re in breach of contract. So if Barnes and Noble is requiring you to charge less for your Kindle book than for your B&N book, they are requiring you to breach your contract with Amazon.

          1. Vanessa Wells Avatar
            Vanessa Wells

            I’m so sorry Holly…I misunderstood. In their terms it states that the Amazon list price must be 20% less than any retail price of a PHYSICAL copy of the book.

            Here’s where I got confused:

            4. Setting Your List Price

            You must set your Digital Book’s List Price (and change it from time-to-time if necessary) so that it is no higher than the list price in any sales channel for any digital or physical edition of the Digital Book.

            But if you choose the 70% Royalty Option, you must further set and adjust your List Price so that it is at least 20% below the list price in any sales channel for any physical edition of the Digital Book.

            By “list price in any sales channel,” we mean the suggested or recommended retail price or, if you sell your book directly to end users, your own sales price, for an edition of the book available outside of our Program.

            1. Holly Avatar

              Okay. No problem. I’m glad to know they haven’t gone so stupid that they’re requiring people to violate Amazon’s contract to work with them.

              The “sell it cheaper than the print version” clause on Amazon is one I’m familiar with. To me, doing that is just common sense…but with commercial publishers charging as much for ebooks as they do for print ones, I guess Amazon felt the need to put common sense in writing.

              They, after all, want you to make money on your books, because the more you make, the more they make.

              1. Susan Avatar

                And this leads to the other issue – the one you mentioned being paranoid about. Amazon, while it allows you to set the price of your work (within their guidelines) does state that it will offer that work at the same competitive prices as other venues (which is understandable.) If B&N arbitrarily reduces the price of your work, Amazon will also reduce the price of your work, undermining your profit.

            2. Vanessa Wells Avatar
              Vanessa Wells

              And here’s that link for anyone who is interested.


          2. Jennifer Avatar

            B&N most likely knows what the Amazon contract says and the fact that it sounds like they are trying to get you kicked off of Amazon doesn’t sit well with me. I’m glad I have a Kindle and an Kindle app on my iPad. As a reader, I do have a few issue with Kindle – specifically with them yanking paid for books off of people’s Kindles (1984 and Animal Farm to give an example) but there are some easy work arounds if you take a few minutes.

            I’m not a big B&N fan, but if I want to go into an actual bookstore, that’s my only easy option. Their website is difficult

            1. Holly Avatar

              Okay, the person who posted that reread the AMAZON contract, and found she’d mis-read. So that is a non-issue.

        3. Jackie Barbosa Avatar

          “In order to get their 70% royalty, you have to guarantee that your Kindle e-book sells for 20% less on Amazon than it does on any other site.”

          No, this isn’t true. Here is the actual language from the TOS:

          “…if you choose the 70% Royalty Option, you must further set and adjust your List Price so that it is at least 20% below the list price in any sales channel for any physical edition of the Digital Book.”

          A physical edition of the digital book means a print copy, not an ebook copy. In other words, if you have a print version of your ebook, its price anywhere cannot be the same as or less than 20% more than the ebook price on Amazon.

          You’d have real trouble putting your ebooks on other retail sites if you were required to always price it lower at Amazon than anywhere else, since many other retailers’ TOS’s include a prohibition on pricing your ebook lower anywhere else.

          1. Holly Avatar

            Yeah—she read again and found her error. 😀

        4. Heather Justesen Avatar

          Actually, I believe Amazon states that your ebook listing must be 20% lower than your PAPER book, not than your ebook listing elsewhere. My ebooks are the same price everywhere, and Amazon doesn’t care. They’re trying to avoid the crap with ebooks being the same cost (or more) than paper like so many trad publishers are doing.

      2. kevin Avatar

        But it IS in the contract. There isn’t a blank check.

        Their is an inclusion statement in the earlier part of the Terms and Conditions that specifically includes the “Pricing and Payment Terms” in the contract. It is annoying, but perfectly legitimate. If the whole thing was printed out, the Pricing and Payment terms would be an appendix or annex to the contract.

        The pay rates are there, just not where you are looking for them. Like I said, foolish, not evil.

        1. Holly Avatar

          Have you gone in to sign up for the new version, Kevin? Have you actually seen what you’re being presented with and told to sign?

          There are no links, no attachments, no appended subdocuments. There is only the main Terms & Conditions agreement, and no way to know what else you’re signing. So the only way you can read the contract with which you’re presented is that you are being asked to agree to undefined clauses. And if you sign, you do so either because you have not read the contract, or because you DO agree to those undefined clauses.

          If they want to make the thing something I’ll sign, every goddamned bit of it has to be included IN THE DOCUMENT I’M SIGNING, and not alluded to.

          1. kevin Avatar

            I haven’t gone to sign up, because I don’t have anything to sell. I am just going through the “terms and conditions” on the Barnes and Noble website.


            If they are just telling you to sign the Terms and Conditions, without having the other documents referenced in them available, then they are stupid, because the other documents are part of the contract. By not making them readily available, B+N is opening themselves to lawsuits.

            If what they are putting in front of you isn’t the terms and conditions, I am really curious what is different.

            1. Holly Avatar

              Kevin, did you actually read the document you linked?

              Because it is exactly the document I’ve been complaining about, and there is NOTHING in there about specific contractual details, nor is there any way to GET specific contractual details from that document.

              And that is the document you are being asked to sign.

              1. kevin Avatar


                Then somebody at B&N is an idiot.

                All the documents referenced in the contract are available on the B&N website. I had a look at all of them. All B&N needed to do was insert the links for easy (well, easier) reading.

                The document you sign includes all those referenced documents. All are subject to the same change rules (on 30 days notice IIRC).

                B&N is being lazy and foolish.

        2. K.W. Avatar

          Except for this:

          “We may update or alter the Pricing and Payment Terms at any time and changes will be effective and binding on you on the date thirty days from posting, as described in the NOOK Press Terms & Conditions.”

          Which means by signing the contract, you are allowing them to implement the above at any time. Having it separate means they can adjust the royalties, so while it may not be a blank cheque, it may very well be one written in erasable ink.

          1. kevin Avatar

            Yeah, but that is the same for the entire contract (if I read it correctly). The whole thing can be rewritten on 30 days notice. Such is long term contracts (check out your cell phone/internet/tv contract, it has the same weasel language).

          2. Pete Avatar

            This is consistent with Amazon/KDP also.

        3. DoverianDragoon Avatar

          Is this inclusion to mean that the “Pricing and Payment Terms” are set upon the signing of the document? Because that’s not the vibe I’m getting.

          The vibe I’m getting is that these “Pricing and Payment Terms” can be changed at any time, and those changes are immediately reflected in the contract – In everybody’s contracts – because the inclusion is a separate, linked document.

          That’s a pretty shady possibility.

          If I can’t see those terms before signing the document – clearly phrased within that signed document itself – how am I even supposed to know what I’m signing? Even if it’s just “foolish” instead of “evil,” there’s enough potential for evil here that I’m leery of it.

          And that’s just one section. I’m no lawyer, either, but a lot of that contract made me leery.

          1. DoverianDragoon Avatar

            Aaaand that had all already been said. ._.;

          2. kevin Avatar

            Nope, the change rules for the Pricing and Payments is 30 days notice. Other parts of the contract can be changed on notice, but not the Pricing and Payments (see Pricing and Payment Terms, para 1)

            1. K.W. Avatar

              Agreed. On reading this further, it does appear to be pretty standard fare for Terms and Conditions of Use. You see these abilities for the company to reserve the right to change the contract when they choose by posting a notice of change. The user must be diligent and watch for the changes, and determine whether to withdraw from the service at that time. At least, there is a 30-day period between posting and acting on the changes within the Pricing and Payments section.

              So, basically, the user of the platform must be cautious and aware of any changes. I don’t see anything about the user being bound for a period of time in the contract. Mind you, I skimmed quickly, but as long as that does not exist, then I think it is still a viable option, albeit one that will require monitoring.

  33. Jennifer Avatar

    It was my understanding that joining Nook Press was voluntary… Like Amazon KDP Select, which makes you offer your eBook for free at first (that is why I didn’t join KDP Select and just published my novel with plain KDP). I am a lawyer and many of the clauses that you have excerpted may be unenforceable due to vagueness. While it is true that all contracts are binding not all contract are enforceable. I have not read the entire contract yet, but I will try to do that and post my further thoughts.

    1. Alan Tucker Avatar

      Just to add a note of clarity here: the Select program does not require you to offer your book for free at first or at any time. It gives you the opportunity to have five days during the three month period where you MAY offer your book for free, but no where does it say you have to use all or any of those days.

    2. Holly Avatar

      Here’s the link to PubIt. You can see for yourself that this is not an “either/or” offer.

      You will move, or you’ll be out.

  34. Jennifer Avatar

    Now I can officially say I’m glad I didn’t pick B&N for my books to begin with! Amazon’s really good about this sort of stuff. Although they don’t just pay you at the end of the month, you have to earn a minimum of $10 before they’ll send the money, but they don’t mess with your cover!
    I’ve got three comic books out through CreateSpace and Kindle Direct and fans love them!
    Can’t say they’ve never given me any headaches during the setup of books, but their support people are patient.
    In any case, I learned long ago to run from such crazy contracts. I got a free consultation from a lawyer about a contract I was being offered by a publisher and he gave me two key pieces of advice: an audit clause means they have nothing to hide and allows you as an author to play IRS and look at their books if you think you’re being cheated (an expensive process, but a good publisher wouldn’t be afraid of you using it) and believe their BBB rating if they have one. F is no joke! It means RUUUUUUUUUUUUUNNNNNNNNNNN!!! An A I would still approach with caution.
    As for me, I have taken to preferring self publishing with amazon.com.
    I’m happy enough with amazon. All the links are on my blog in the sidebar: http://www.dreamangelsparadise.com/blog/ if anyone’s interested.

  35. ByTheFarmstead Avatar

    Writer Beware?

    1. wednesday Avatar

      Yeah, Writer Beware — as in, take the issue over there and see if they’re aware of this and discussing it too?

  36. S.J. Driscoll Avatar

    It’s Amazon’s fault.

  37. Armondo Avatar

    Seems to me that they are trying to kill the self publishing market on the nook. B&N just cannot compete with Amazon and Apple. Thank you for revealing this to us.

  38. Matt Gomez Avatar
    Matt Gomez

    Have you let the people over at Writer Beware know about this? I know other publishers have been pressured to change their contracts over with a wee bit of industry leverage.

    Beats not having your book being published through a substantial channel.

  39. A.H Browne Avatar

    That almost seems to me, that they are doing some of what Amazon does in changing the fees, but the cover art? Changing the other stuff? I already had issues with them not including a cover image when I upload my books from Smashwords and then distribute to B&N, but that seems, well, just really makes me want to stick w Smashwords without that extra distribution over to B&N. Frustrating.

    Going to share this over on Facebook and G+. Many other authors will be interested to read this, I’m sure.

  40. Tammi Labrecque Avatar
    Tammi Labrecque


    I’m so glad you mentioned this, because I really feel that this got lost in the whole hullabaloo about ebook price fixing. The publishers/Apple made out like there were all kinds of business reasons for the Agency Model, and with very few exceptions no one seemed to hone in on the fact that at least one person was specifically quoted as saying that the reason for it was that they didn’t want readers to get used to the 9.99 price point. I believe that may actually be very close to a direct quote, as I was outraged and therefore remember it pretty well.

    No one – NO ONE – with a financial incentive to reduce ebook sales should be in charge of pricing ebooks. Period, full stop, end of story.

    1. Tammi Labrecque Avatar
      Tammi Labrecque

      Oops, the part of your post I was trying to quote was this:

      What is Barnes & Noble? It’s a brick-and-mortar chain with a non-stellar online presence. It has a massive, vested interest in keeping print books at the top of the reading food chain, just as commercial publishers do. Commercial publishers have moved the price of ebooks upward to be the same as or higher than their mass market or trade paper versions. Why? For the publicly stated purpose of SLOWING DOWN EBOOK SALES.

  41. James Avatar

    I’m sure after they read all the backlash from this they’ll go in an add what the royalties will be and the time limits on the in-store Nook reading. But it still won’t be a good contract. What is the time limit for doing something? I was going to try to switch over to this from Pubit, but now I think I’ll go pull everything I have there down. And what’s happening to Pubit?

    1. Holly Avatar

      Pubit is being closed to make way for Nook Press.

  42. Jessica Steiner Avatar

    Argh, now I have to go over to Smashwords and make sure that the contract I signed with them (which sends my book over to the B&N store) supersedes that one.

    1. Mark Coker Avatar

      Jessica, Smashwords authors are covered under a different contract. Nook Press is B&N’s self pub platform. Our contract is with the group that deals with large publishers.

  43. Heather Justesen Avatar

    And did you notice that instead of changing the book price within a day or so like now, they now have 20 days to decide whether or not they intend to do so. So not happy about this, especially since they are FINALLY starting to sell more than $15 per month of my book. But I agree, if they can’t fix this contract, I’ll be pulling everything.

  44. Rachel Avatar

    Holly, you need to look here for the pricing and payment terms: http://pubit.barnesandnoble.com/pubit_app/bn?t=support#pricing_payment_terms.

    “Publisher will set a List Price for each NOOK Book between $0.99 and $199.99. An equivalent price in GBP (£) will be auto-calculated according to that day’s exchange rate for NOOK.co.uk sales. Publisher has the option to manually input the price in GBP.

    Publisher will be paid a royalty off the List Price in USD according to the following terms: 1.For eBookNOOK Books with a List Price at or between $2.99/£1.50 and $9.99/£7.99 ■65% of the List Price

    2.2. For NOOK Books with a List Price at or below $2.98 /£1.49, or at or greater than $10.00/£8.00 (but not more than $199.99/£120.00 and not less than $0.99/£0.75) ■40% of the List Price

    Publisher will, at all times, ensure that the NOOK Book List Price: 1.Is no greater than the eBook’s List Price at any other retailer, website, or sales channel.
    2.Is no greater than the eBook’s print edition (if applicable).
    3.Complies with the minimum and maximum pricing policy as stated above.
    Sample royalty calculation: 1.List Price: $9.99 – Publisher Royalty: $6.49
    2.List Price: $20.00 – Publisher Royalty: $8.00
    3.List Price: £6.99 – Publisher Royalty: £4.54
    4.List Price: £10.00 – Publisher Royalty: £4.00”

    1. Holly Avatar

      One: that’s PubIt, not Nook Press.

      Two: noting again, if it’s not in the contract, it doesn’t exist. This is rule number one of reading contracts. Verbal agreements, agreements on different unsigned documents, and promises from the Tooth Fairy are all irrelevant. You aren’t signing the Pricing Payment Terms. You’re signing their Terms and Conditions, to which the other documents are not even linked.

      1. Kevin O. McLaughlin Avatar

        Untrue. Any document referred to in a contract is legally part of that contract, and equally binding.

        So referring to an external document is totally legit, and they are legally bound by the policies set forth in that document (in this case, the prices etc. quoted above).

        I suspect they simply have not transferred this document from Pubit to the Nook Press site yet. Their email SAYS there will be no change to those terms.

        I’d watch carefully to see the “Service Policies” document pop on Nook Press; when it does, it will replace the old Nook doc. If there are changes, they’ll take effect at that time.

        Till then, I would avoid worrying about the sky falling. 😉

        1. Dal Jeanis Avatar
          Dal Jeanis

          Kevin’s right regarding the existence of those terms in your contract. The one you sign is the terms that were in effect on the date you sign.

          You are right in that those terms are written on electrons and subject to Heisenburg uncertainty ( or is that lawyerburg uncertainty?)

          DO you suppose it’s a coincidence that this stuff happens only a year after Microsoft buys a big stake in B&N?

  45. Lori Robinett Avatar

    I’m not a lawyer, but I’m a paralegal who has read enough contracts to know that this is one I would not sign. Thank you for posting this with your comments.

  46. Joan Leacott Avatar

    Hi Holly, I picked this info up on the Galley Cat site.

    There are royalty rates quoted, but as I don’t have a B&N account, I can’t log in a verify them. How does this compare to the actual contract?

    1. Holly Avatar

      I have the actual contract linked at the top.

  47. Heidi Avatar

    And if the authors go, the readers will soon switch to Kindle. Sounds like a smart business decision.

  48. RNFrancis Avatar

    I can hear people saying now, “Oh B&N wouldn’t do that,” but I’ll just say that doing business with an entity is not the same as doing business with a friend. Putting down specifics in clear language is not a luxury; it’s a necessity. Thanks for the heads-up, Holly.

  49. Becky Burkheart Avatar

    So glad you posted this. I was headed over there today to try to read and figure it out. I think I’ll sit this one out and see if they come to their sense.

  50. Sarah Avatar

    Wow, way to discourage authors from having books on Nook 😮

    1. Will Avatar

      Do as you wish. I think it’s great she gave us a heads up. She said this is why she is doing what she’s doing. Try not to take things personally, and be grateful. Thanks, Holly!

    2. Holly Avatar

      I hate seeing markets turn bad as much as the next writer with books to sell.

      Nothing justifies signing a bad contract. Ask any writer who’s even signed one, not just me.

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