Friday, February 3, 2012

Barnes and Noble - What's Up???

With all the hubbub about Amazon, you might think that some of us reviewers are rooting for Barnes&Noble to succeed and give them a run for their money.  And we are - sorta.  You see, we're hopeful that B&N will welcome reviewers to their site, and help us, and them, build a readership.  And they are - sorta.

B&N has never been very friendly to small press/self-published books/authors.  Amazon jumped on that boat early on and grabbed that market.  For self-published authors, all one has to do is join "Amazon Advantage" and bingo, you can start selling your book on Amazon.  B&N?  Not so simple.  Books had to be submitted to a self-publishing review section, where the book would be critiqued and, if you could prove that sales would be good, they might decide to carry your title.  More than likely, a self-pub author was left waiting and waiting and waiting for a reply.  Not sure why they did this other than, perhaps they didn't have a warehouse large enough to hold all those self-published books.  And/or, maybe they miscalculated the sales from these books.  Amazon certainly made a nice little profit off of them.

Amazon has left B&N in the dust in so many marketing areas that you have to wonder, what's up?  Does B&N not have a marketing department?  Or a lackluster website development team?  Take their "widgets."  You know, the images anyone can add to their website that leads directly to that product's buy page on Amazon, or B&N.  Again, Amazon jumped on this early and quickly and made it easy for people to use.  B&N?  Well, they have widgets but how many websites do you visit that use them?  I haven't seen any.

Recently, I was posting reviews to B&N and two of them wouldn't go through.  (Yet another klunky, poorly developed website service - can we say "formatting, please"???!!!  How about some paragraph formatting!!!  But I digress....)  Anyway, both gave error messages, saying the content violated their terms (guessing inappropriate language, although there was nothing in the reviews that was "inappropriate."  One was for a children's book!).  Problem #1 - it doesn't tell you what the problem is/what we did to violate their terms.  Problem #2 - there is no way to edit/remove/delete/re-post the review.  It's there, with a message telling me to fix it and then it can be posted but there's no way to fix it.  Really, B&N?  Really?   Hmmmm.... can't figure that one out.  The other?  A suspense novel - maybe the mention of a tv show in that review violated their terms.  I don't have a clue.

So on January 23rd I tried to get through to somebody at B&N to fix this problem.  I used their real-time customer support "chatroom" where you type back and forth.  Within a few back and forths, it was obvious that "Mandy" was in India.  Oh, joy, here we go.  What should have been a brief, few minute conversation took over 20 minutes.  I was put on hold several times, and it took "Mandy" ten minutes just to understand what my problem was.  Twenty minutes later, I was told that my problem was due to a "technical problem" that they were working on.  Geeze, thanks for wasting 20 minutes of my time! 

As of today, the "technical problem" has not been resolved.  I can't get into those reviews to re-post/fix, I've had other reviews go ker-blingy too and I'm frustrated.  Come on, B&N, I'm rooting for you but if these problems continue, you'll lose my support.