That’s a serious headline. It’s not intended as click-bait, and I’m not going on a rant about how evil Barnes and Noble is or how I’ll never buy anything from them again. I just won’t buy more Nook books. (I’m quite willing to buy a future Nook device, assuming it’s good. I love my Nook HD.)
I’ve been meaning to write this story for more than a week, but I got distracted by the whole Amazon/Hachette thing and hesitated to publish this because of the timing. Finally, I decided “what the heck,” especially after Chris’ excellent piece on why DRM isn’t the reason people are “locked in” to Kindle. He makes the point that its convenience, not DRM, and I completely agree, especially after my latest round with Nook books. I haven’t seen many bloggers do a step by step comparison between the buying/reading experience on Kindle and Nook, so here it goes. By the end, I think you’ll understand my headline.
I’ve had periods of time where I bought more books from B&N (like during the period covered by the eBook settlement) and periods (like recently) when I’ve purchased more from Amazon. Since I had all those lovely credits, I decided to buy some books from B&N, which is where I remembered why I switched to Amazon and learned a new wrinkle.
Browsing for books
I prefer the Amazon site but find the B&N site to be perfectly usable. I rarely browse and most often use the search function, which seems to work equally well on either site. I know many people who browse generally prefer Amazon’s site, but for me, the website experience is equal. Advantage: Neither
Purchasing books from site or device
Again, for me, basically neutral if all you’re looking at is the process of finding and downloading a book to your device. We’ll get into payments in a moment. Advantage: Neither
Payments, especially for pre-orders
Now we get to the good stuff. I decided to use some of my credits to order [easyazon-link asin=”B00HUVUSZ4″ locale=”us”]Skin Game[/easyazon-link], the new Harry Dresden book. I cancelled my pre-order at Amazon (remember that) and pre-ordered from B&N. I noticed the amount vanished from my gift card credit and suddenly had a sinking feeling, so I did some research.
Here’s how pre-orders work at B&N. They do not charge your credit card until the book is released, but they do deduct gift card balance, if any, immediately. If the price drops between the time you order and the book’s release, too bad. Oh, and you can’t cancel a pre-order. At all.
Here’s how pre-orders work at Amazon. They do not charge either your credit card or your gift card balance, if any, until the book is released. eBooks are covered under the pre-order price guarantee, which means if the price drops after you place your order, you will be charged the lower price on release date. And, remember above? You can cancel your pre-order at any time.
While I understand the debate around the Amazon ebook refund policy (which I support, btw, even though I’ve had my books returned and yes, “lost” those sales), I think cancelling pre-orders is perfectly reasonable. I haven’t received the book yet, so what’s the harm in me cancelling it? Amazon’s pre-order price guarantee is extremely customer-friendly. B&N’s policies are not customer-friendly. Advantage: Amazon
As I’ve written before, Nook doesn’t play nice with ePub. Often, to get a book, purchased from B&N, to display properly on their own device, I have to download, strip the DRM and run it through Calibre. I rarely need to do that with Kindle books. Advantage: Amazon
Removing a book from your device after reading it
If you’ve ever purchased a book for a Nook, you know where I’m going here.
Removing a book from a Kindle involves long-pressing it, selecting “Remove from Device” and it’s gone. If you have it in a Collection on a Paperwhite, you’ll also need to remove it from the Collection so it doesn’t show up as a greyed-out “Cloud” book. Yes, that second step is annoying, and the KBoards people have gone on at length about how it’s a relatively new “feature” that ain’t. However, you can do everything needed from your Kindle. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe it is still a one-step process on any non-Paperwhite device.
Not so on your Nook. First, you Remove from Device. Then you have the cover still on your library with a little “cloud” image on it. You can “Move it to Nook Cloud,” but that doesn’t actually do anything. To actually remove the cover image from your device, you have to go to your computer, log on to your account and “Archive” the book. Then you go back to your Nook and refresh your library. Finally, that darned cover goes away.
Update: Reader Geert in the comments said there is a way to Archive a book directly from the Nook HD/HD+. Copied from the B&N forum:
Go to the library. Hold down the ‘up’ button on volume control until the volume control is all the way up. At the same time as you are pressing on the ‘up’ volume button, do a long touch on the book that you want to archive. You will now see that there is an ‘archive’ option in the menu. to unarchive, go the the 4 lines at the bottom left corner of the library and touch them and choose “view archive”. Use the same procedure as archiving, but of course the option in the menu now says “unarchive”.
Fair enough. It can be done. However, holding down the volume control before archiving a book is NOT intuitive at all!
Oh, and remember that pre-order? Pre-ordered book covers sit on your device with a “Pre-order” badge the entire time. I suppose I could have archived my pre-order (I didn’t try), but I’m not sure.
Update: Anyone want to let me know if the method above works on a pre-order as well? I don’t have one to check it on.
I’m one of those people who keeps my device clean. I only want the books I’m going to read on it. Once I’m done, I want it gone. If I don’t have it yet, I don’t want to see the cover. With the Nook,
there’s no way it’s not intuitive to do it without involving the computer. Advantage: Amazon
Take price out of the equation (though Nook books are often more than Kindle books). On sheer convenience and pricing policies, Amazon continues to be more customer-friendly. I’m willing to pay more for a superior product or customer experience, but I’m not willing to pay more for an inferior experience.
Would I like to see a viable competitor to Amazon? Sure. Competition is a good thing. However, I’m not going to pay more and deal with less customer-friendly policies just because the company isn’t called Amazon.