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.


  1. Thanks for calling out B&N for clumsy marketing and inhospitable support. Why are they arguing with Amazon’s successful business model? Readers would benefit if B&N imitated Amazon wherever possible.

    My mystery series does well online and book reviews create interest and sales. Didn’t booksellers learn that 200 years ago?

  2. Did you ever get an answer? I had the same thing happen -- I've posted three reviews last month and all were pulled due to "inappropriate language." I've emailed three times, chatted twice, got nowhere.