Goodbye Nook

Several years back I received my first eBook reader for Father’s Day. It was a Nook Simple Touch with glow-light, and I loved it. I took it with me everywhere and found reading on it extremely pleasurable. So much so, in fact, that purchasing printed books became reserved for special volumes which I wanted in physical form. I have purchased close to fifty books through the Nook store, read many more by downloading them from the library, and found the convenience of the digital store both dangerous and terrifying 1. When a book which I wanted to read was released I went to the Barnes and Noble Nook store, placed my order, and saw my the item pop up on my device.

It didn’t matter to me that the Nook seemed to be dying on the vine, or that page syncing between devices was flaky 2. The light was fantastic, the eInk display was stunning, and the hardware buttons for page turning allowed me to hold the book in either hand with no problems. I loved my Nook, and I loved purchasing Nook books.

Then last night happened, and my confidence in the entire Nook enterprise has now been tossed on the scrap heap.

Yesterday afternoon I received the email newsletter from Brandon Sanderson, one of my favorite fantasy authors. In this letter was the announcement of the next book in his Mistborn world, which immediately made me think, “I need to get that.” So, that evening I navigated to Barnes and Noble’s site, purchased the Nook Book and, as I wanted to test my iPhone 6s+ out as a reading device, opened the Nook app on my phone to begin reading.

The book never showed up. I thought that was odd so I explored my library, thinking I’d begin the download manually, but the book wasn’t there. I opened my eInk Nook to find my purchase, it wasn’t there either.

Growing concerned I hadn’t completed the transaction, I opened up my email client to see if I got my confirmation email. Sure enough, there it was, with the order number and total of my order with tax. Growing more concerned I navigated back over to the Barnes and Noble site to find out what was up.

My order was stuck on “processing.”

I wasn’t sure why this might have happened, so I navigated over to the support section and spied an option to chat with Nook support. Thinking I’d solve the issue and get my book, I initiated a chat.

Things began well. The support agent asked for my order number, which I provided. Then I was asked for my email address, only to be told, “This isn’t the email address attached to this account.”

This is where things went south.

I informed the agent, yes, that was the email attached to the account. I even typed it in again, just to make sure. I informed the agent this was the address the confirmation email was sent to, and the only email address attached to my profile. A profile I was reading after logging into my account with, you guessed it, my email address.

The agent told me to call the Barnes and Noble auditing number in the morning, essentially telling me to go away. At this point I was very unhappy, having had an incredibly stressful and emotional day, and told the agent that, as the product I had ordered wasn’t delivered, I would like my order cancelled.

The agent repeated that I needed to call the auditing number. I was not pleased.

Seeing as Brandon Sanderson releases his books without DRM, I decided that I would head over to the Amazon Kindle store and purchase the book from that site. A few seconds after placing my order I was reading the book. The order status for my Barnes and Noble order still read “processing.”

The charge, however, showed up on my card just fine.

In the morning I called Barnes and Noble’s technical support and ran through the same issue. “That email address isn’t the one attached to this order.” When I said, “It’s the only email address I’ve ever put on this account 3.” The agent on the other line said, “Well, can you name some of your other email addresses it see if one of those fits?”

This hurt my brain.

After being put on hold for several minutes the agent came back and asked if I minded waiting while they troubleshooted. By this time I had (a) already purchased the book I wanted and (b) had lost faith in Barnes and Noble’s tech support to do anything but tell me my email address was incorrect. I told the agent, “No, I’m sorry, but as Barnes and Noble wouldn’t send me the book for which I have been charged, I’ve already purchased it from Amazon. Please cancel my order. The agent said, “I’m very sorry, I will see if I’m allowed to do that.” To which I replied, “No, you will. If you do not this charge is being contested. You took my money and didn’t deliver the product.” Soon the agent returned and told me a refund would be delivered, but would take 1 or 2 billing cycles for it to show up.

Utterly frustrated at this point, I asked, “Do you even have an idea as to why this has happened to my order?” The answer was, “We know it’s on our end, but we don’t know what it is.”

What a great confidence-booster for the Nook book store! And, had either support agent been remotely helpful my innate technical support instincts would have had me stick around to troubleshoot. Sadly, the chat agent was almost rude 4, and the phone agent was extraordinarily unhelpful. The phone agent did get my refund after I all but demanded one, but that’s likely my last financial transaction with the Nook book store ever. I no longer have confidence in their system.

My account, however, is still valid enough to get into the Nook Study app download all my books, and prepare them for my Calibre library. Soon I will suspend my Barnes and Noble account completely. I guess I’ll purchasing Kindle books in the future.

  1. Why only fifty books in a few years? Because I was deliberately holding myself back! 
  2. A better term is “broken.” 
  3. And had been working all summer, and for the past several years 
  4. I got the feeling I was being treated with suspicion.