Barnes & Noble subsidiary Nook today announced the launch of Nook Press, a self-publishing platform to help the e-reader and e-book seller attract more self-publishing authors. The platform will help Nook compete with Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, providing a content creation and management tool that builds on Barnes & Noble’s aging PubIt! platform with tools designed in partnership with self-publishing company FastPencil.
PubIt! was only two and a half years old, and while Nook touted its success in its press release (20 percent growth quarter upon quarter, 30 percent of Nook customers buying self-published titles every month), it’s clear that the company wanted to try a different approach, with a complete rebranding and rebuilding of its self-publishing tools.
New partner FastPencil began offering Barnes & Noble merchandising opportunities to its users back in July of 2012, which provided the chance to place actually physical marketing in Barnes & Noble retail locations for Nook content. That deal looks as though it may have precipitated this closer partnership, which allows Nook to offer collaboration and more robust content creation vs. what was available through PubIt!.
Whereas PubIt! was more of a barebones document uploader and ePub conversion tool, Nook Press is designed to be much more of an all-in-one solution, which authors can use from the very earliest stages of the composition process. After creating a new account, you can either upload an existing manuscript to get started, or jump right into a web-based composer, which supports chapter breakdowns and other outlining features, internal document links, and comments from invited collaborators.
Nook also says that Nook Press comes complete with “Live Chat” support services Monday through Friday, between 9 AM and 9 PM EST, improved sales and performance reports, a 2-3 day turnaround cycle for works that are already written and edited, and more merchandising opportunities, including an upcoming dedicated channel for Nook Press titles on the Nook HD and Nook HD+ Android-based tablets.
It’s more of a destination than KDP, akin to a blend between an iBooks Author and a simple upload and publish tool. Nook Press seems aimed at encouraging self-publishing authors to feel at home in its platform, and to start building a collaborative community there, perhaps taking a bit of a cue from Wattpad, the successful self-publishing social network. Based on my early testing, it’s a pleasant enough environment for both content creation and collaboration, but we’ll see if Nook’s appeal as a publishing platform is boosted by the availability of new tools.