Other Places to Find Good Books: Barnes & Noble, Google, Apple Books

This is an informal series. 

Part 1: Kobo
Part 2: Barnes & Noble, Google, Apple Books
Part 3: Ask an AI
Part 4: Smashwords
Part 5: Subscription Services
Part 6: Fiction Apps
Part 7: BookFunnel & StoryOrigin
Part 8: Book Bundlers


A few weeks ago, I did a post about finding good books on Kobo, and the benefits of being willing and able to buy from multiple sources, instead of just one bookstore (usually, the Big River). 

Today, I’ll round up the other “big” retailers:  Barnes & Noble, Google, and Apple Books.

Barnes & Noble

Barnes & Noble is an insular bookstore.  That is, it really only caters to United States readers, probably as a result of being a secondary off-shoot of the Barnes & Noble brick & mortar bookstores that are only in the USA. 

The online store doesn’t specifically forbid non-USA residents from buying from the store, and it does have a nice, clean interface,  However, it only shows USD currency when you’re there, so you’ll have to mentally convert to your local currency.

When B&N.com first started, it wouldn’t allow indie authors outside the US to publish their books there, which sharply limited the range of books on offer.

However, that restriction was lifted several years ago.  I distribute my books there, but it’s possible that the old restriction, even though lifted, may have resulted in books still not being available on B&N that might otherwise have been, had the restriction not been in place.

Science fiction seems to do very well on B&N, and romance, as usual, has a firm foothold. 

B&N also offer lots of in house discounts and special promotions, so watching their sales is a good idea.  Most promos are advertised on their front page.

Other promotions and deals are advertised via their free newsletter.

I’ve participated in a number of these deals and the response is always very strong, which I take to mean that there are a lot of readers who shop on B&N and take advantage of the deals and discounts.

Google

Google Play Books sells audio books and ebooks.  And they’re also venturing into AI narrated audiobooks that are ridiculously cheap in comparison to the traditional audiobooks. 

I like Google Books.  The store’s strength is that it is built upon the world’s most popular search engine, so finding books you want to read isn’t as headache-inducing as searching for books on the store I won’t name.

From the back end, Google is a doddle for authors to deal with, which makes it super friendly and easy to upload to, which encourages indies to climb aboard. 

Google doesn’t do sales and deals like Kobo and Barnes & Noble do, but what it does have in its favour is a seamless integration with the Google Play Books ereading software.

As Google’s ereader comes pre-installed on all Android devices, the store draws a lot of readers by default, most of them PC oriented…but not all of them.

It might surprise you to know that there is a Google Play eReader for ISO, too.  You can find it here.

I use this ereader myself, and love the way it synchronizes without issue across all my devices, including my laptop and desktop (via the web-based ereader), where I can read and mark up non-fiction books I’m studying with ease.

And I love the annotated notes that the Google ereader saves on my Google drive.  No exporting needed.  They just sit there until I need them.

Google used to have an issue with pricing.  They used a discount system, where they would automatically (without warning or notice) discount books from the price authors listed them at.  This got a lot of authors in trouble with Amazon, who price matches.  Authors were forced to artificially raise their prices on Google Play, so that when Google discounted, it wasn’t lower than the price at Amazon.  It caused a lot of confusion for authors, who found it easier to ignore Google Books altogether. 

Google Play Books has since moved to agency pricing (where the publisher controls the price), but you may still find that some of the titles on Google Play are artificially high.  It pays to comparison shop on the price.

My romances and fantasy novels do very well on Google, which tells me those two genres are well represented and liked by the customers there.

Apple Books

I don’t feel qualified to talk about Apple Books as a customer, as I’m 100% PC oriented, and you can only access and buy books on the Apple Books store with an apple device.  This is a shame, I think, for Apple is automatically cutting off a huge swathe of potential customers.

I can tell you that for the longest time, Apple wouldn’t allow authors to publish books on their store unless they used an IOS device, which prevented a huge number of great books from appearing there.

This has now changed, but the selection of books at Apple may still be limited because of this awkward heritage. 

If you shop at Apple because you use Apple devices, you might find your reading selection expands enormously if you browse elsewhere, too.

Apple do offer in-house deals and discounts, but their criteria for participating in them are stringent (e.g., minimum number of reviews, etc), so that many books cannot be included.

It pays to browse and click through on related titles, author names, etc., to find books buried in their system.

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I’ll continue this series of where you can find great books in the near future.

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