Tuesday, March 1, 2011

B&N removes ability to download free samples

It was quite a shock when I noticed last night that I couldn't download any free samples of my books on Barnes & Noble anymore. I'd wanted to download a sample of one of my books because I'd just done an update on the formatting and wanted to make sure it looked alright. Imagine my shock when I realized that none of my books could be sampled.

In the morning, I checked the website again and spoke to several other authors only to find out that I wasn't the only one this happened to. I started a topic on Kindleboards to discuss it with others, and a pattern soon emerged.

It appears that Barnes and Noble has removed all "Download Free Sample" functionality from self-published authors who write in the erotic romance or erotica category.

Censorship anybody?

I've already seen a sharp drop-off in sales today. And I can't really blame readers. I wouldn't buy a book if I couldn't sample it.

I have therefore done the following: my blog now has samples of four of my most popular books online (see the legend above), and I'm referring to these samples on the product pages of my books on Barnes & Noble. I've also pasted short excerpts onto the product pages themselves, but I'm restricted as to the number of works I'm allowed to paste, so those excerpts are short.

I don't know whether this will help revive my sales on Barnes & Noble, but it's the best I can do right now. In the meantime, some of us are trying to get answers from Barnes & Noble about this obvious discrimination.

Needless to say, I didn't get any writing done today.


  1. Awwww, I'm so sorry, Tina! Did they give any explanation? DId you do a search for a press release about this? How do they know you're self-published anyhow? Just do like a bunch of authors I've seen, become your press, LOL!

  2. Elaina,
    no press release, no explanation. And they knew we're self-published because we're uploading through they self-pub portal. It's quite easy to target us that way.
    And authors like Lora Leigh (who writes great Erotica), who's NY published, are not affected. Readers can still download her samples, and my stuff isn't any steamier than hers.
    Let's see if we can kick up a big enough stink to get this reversed.

  3. It's irritating as heck, indeed. My sales have dropped off dramatically, too. Like you, I've pasted a short excerpt into my descriptions, and I hope that will help. But I wouldn't buy a book if I couldn't sample it, so I can't blame readers for that.

    It's particularly annoying because the last couple of months have gone SO well on B&N *grumbles*. It seems like they'd be happy with how much they're making off erotica writers, but I guess they have to balance that consideration with the fact that they get complaints-- and of course there are always some people who will complain and threaten boycotts and so forth.

  4. Oh, and PS, don't forget how they seem to have cut all erotica out of the PubIt "bestseller list." Can't be a bestseller if you're erotica, apparently:-P.

  5. Ellen, it's totally hypocritical. They take the money they are making off us, but they don't want to acknowledge us. We are the dirty little secret.

  6. Well, what annoys me worse than not acknowledging us is them doing something that actively hurts sales. I'll have to check around midnight, but right now it looks like my sales will be down by around a hundred and fifty books today. I am not pleased.

  7. Okay, the erotic aside why are they not offering the sample to those signed into their accounts? How about instead of causing such an issue why don't they offer a censorship question when signing up or log into the B&N account like they offer on Amazon and other sites. That would enable the choice of censorship instead of having it forced on us.

  8. Barb, your suggestions sound like an easy one to apply. Once people are logged in, they have their details and know whether the person is of age or not. Same with purchasing straight from the Nook: you're automatically logged in when you switch it on, so why are the sample buttons not showing up there?

  9. I can understand that sales politic, cause, as you say, it doesn't affect to editorials...

  10. Tina is there any way as readers we can support you maybe some where we can complain to support our favorite writers? I'm sure like myself other readers hate seeing this effect your sale and would hate to see you stop writing due to sales not that I'm saying you would but we'd like to show our support in some way besides the continue purchases of your books which we all do.

  11. AndrAla,
    looks like there's already been an outcry by readers and authors, with support of some journalists, and this afternoon the download sample function was returned to all books. Of course, there's been no explanation or comment by B&N.
    Thanks so much for your willingness to support us indies!
    And I would never stop writing anyway. It would just be a shame if I had to go back and work a 9-5 job because that would seriously cut down on how many books I can write a year.