Back in April, 2012, I had blogged about the $300 million dollars that Microsoft had sunk into Barnes & Noble, specifically for the Nook ereader. At that time I had speculated that with that amount of financial infusion, changes were bound to happen. And it appears that one of the first very visual steps has been announced: Nook will be coming to the U.K.!
In the press release from this morning (August 20) Barnes & Noble announced that it would simultaneously launch both it's ereader line of Nooks (multiple versions) as well as a U.K. bookstore to accompany the ereaders (www.nook.co.uk). The launch has been pegged for "Autumn", which gives them a little leeway in the actual date since Autumn covers a few months. This is Barnes & Noble's first serious attempt to branch out of the United States, by it's own admission.
Barnes & Noble also claim that they have fostered "partnerships with leading retailers" in which they will sell their ereaders to the English public. These retailers will be selling physical Nooks in their brick & mortar stores as well as their online counterparts.
This announcement is perfectly timed so that Barnes & Noble will be able to take advantage of the holiday shopping season this year. I'm sure that they had watched for a number of years as Amazon ate their lunch at holiday time here in the States, and now is their chance to make in-roads.
So, what does this mean for us as indie authors? Simple: more opportunities. It's giving us another avenue to get our books into the hands of readers. This is a great first step with the new money Barnes & Noble has, but it's not enough. In order to keep the momentum going, they need to make their online store more customer-focused, making it easy for both returning customers and new ones to find what they are looking for, and then suggest things that they didn't know that they wanted. Amazon does this well, and has for years. If Barnes & Noble did this, they would provide some stiff competition for Amazon, at least here in the States, and in my book when that happens, everyone wins.
As I like to say, it's a great time to be an author!