Is Barnes and Noble Changing the Self-Publishing Game?


What is it?

Self-published authors will soon have the opportunity to see their books on the shelves of Barnes and Noble.

Why is it game-changing?

This decision, not only opens doors for indie authors everywhere, but it’s also the first move to offer real competition to Amazon. How is one Amazon bookstore to compete against 640 Barnes and Noble stores? The answer may surprise you.

Long Story Short

Amazon has been the leading supporter of Indie Authors for many years, and with the news of its upcoming bookstores, it was sure to knock Barnes and Noble off its own shelves. B&N, however, isn’t going down without a fight. They’ll be offering indie authors the chance to sell their self-published books in-store.

Before you start doing the happy dance, you need to understand the catch. To qualify for this program, you would need to say goodbye to Amazon’s KDP Select. This is only for NOOK Press authors  whose e-book sales (per title) have reached 1,000 units in the past year. So this “opportunity” isn’t as simple as it sounds. Still, it may very well be the first of many changes that will help knock down the gates holding back talented self-published authors.

Long Story

Independent authors release more books on a monthly basis than the trade houses. Luckily, there are several e-book channels for them to sell their work, so the choices aren’t limited. The problem is, even though they write legitimate books, these go unnoticed by readers because the hardcopy isn’t in their peripheral view.

Needless to say, the opportunity for sales would increase exponentially if these books were allowed in bookstores around the country. Sure, you can pay for shelf space in local mom-and-pop bookstores, but the return of that investment may not be worth it in the long run.

While the inclusion of self-published books in B&N stores sounds like a revolutionizing deal, there are several factors to consider:

First, to become eligible, you must be a NOOK Press author who has sold 1,000 e-book units in the previous year, per title. Or any Nook Press e-book title with 500 sales, per unit. How many self-published authors would meet that requirement? The answer is not many at all. It takes a lot of marketing and personal investment for your book to get readers’ attention.

Second, your title cannot be enrolled in Amazon’s KDP Select. Which makes perfect sense, of course, as you’d need to be a NOOK Press author and Amazon’s KDP rules require exclusivity.

Third, Barnes and Noble will be choosing the titles they’ll carry in-store based on sales. And as far as business perspective goes, it’s a smart move. So it’s about helping indie authors while making sure their pockets aren’t filled with holes.

On the other hand, there’s an upside to their minimum sales requirement. The quality of books sold in-store should, in theory, help the reputation self-published books have earned over the years of being poor quality.

If that hasn’t captured your attention, check out the rest of the perks. As their press release said:

“…authors have the opportunity to sell their print books at Barnes & Noble stores across the country . . . participate at in-store events including book signings and discussions, where they will be able to sell their print books and meet fans.”

And doesn’t that sound like every author’s dream?

The biggest consideration, though, is Amazon’s new bookstores and their plans for indie authors. We have yet to find out the details of what they’ll require for shelf space, but the one thing we know for sure is they’ve been behind self-published authors from the beginning. For all we know, their in-store program may compete head-to-head with this new curveball thrown by Barnes and Noble.

What are the unknowns of this B&N program?

If your single unit sales meet the minimum requirement, you must still submit your print books for review. In other words, sales alone will not qualify your book for their in-store program. Barnes & Noble’s Small Press Department and one of the company’s corporate category buyers will decide if your book is store-worthy.

It’s safe to assume there will be a shelf life; the question is how long? How many units will they carry? And will it really be nationwide or will they keep it local per author? As far as we know, there may be higher requirements in sales for your book to make it in more than one store.

Either way, as far as seeing the industry change gears, this is a big deal. What else will follow in the years to come? Even better things, we hope!

Own the Conversation

You can read more about this news here:

7 thoughts on “Is Barnes and Noble Changing the Self-Publishing Game?”

  1. This is cool, but at the same time most of what I have sold in books is because I am part of the select program on Amazon. I think that it will be interesting to see how it all goes in the coming years. Nice article.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly! It feels, to me, like it’s more about them trying to stop the competition. All while stealing/disabling the KDP Select programs . . . except, where are those 1,000 sales going to come from? Most ARE directly from Amazon. But they expect the sales to stick for the next year? o_O Probably not, which will rotate their shelf space constantly.


  2. I’m with you on this one Brandon. It feels like too little, too late for B&N and doesn’t feel like they are fully embracing the SP authors yet. But I guess we shall see.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think that’s awesome. It’s really hard for self-published authors as well as authors published by small presses to get their books in stores like B&N. I do agree that it’s taken them long enough, The only reason they’re doing it now is so they don’t lose (more) sales. Still, it’s nice that they are making this change. I hope it works out and does many authors good.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You know? Overall, it really is an awesome move! And I understand the need to have prerequesites—I’m all for it. The problem, personally, is exactly what you’re saying . . . it’s only to save themselves. It feels like they’re half-heartedly doing this “for self-published authors.” First, they want nothing to do with them, but then they turn to them for sales. AND to save their own reputation, “Oh well, we do have a B&N program, it’s not our fault most don’t make the cut (this is why we’ve been standing behind trad publishing all along).”

      Now, when the inevitable changes come to this program to give indie authors a real chance, I’ll join everyone with the happy dancing. But yes, this IS the first step to great things in the industry. All I wish is that they sounded more sincere about it lol.

      Thanks so much for stopping by, Chrys. 😀


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s