I am insanely disappointed in Barnes and Noble. Earlier this week, news broke that they were shutting down the long-running eReader.com and Fictionwise.com sites they purchased three years ago, and offering to transition as many books as eligible to matching NOOK accounts. So far, so good. Then, the day after it became big news, they sent out emails with instructions on the transition. Also good. Unfortunately, if you were to follow the instructions in these emails, you would likely see one of two outcomes: a failure to link your email to your eReader/Fictionwise account, or B&N would find your account but only transfer a small handful of eligible titles. Either way, this is a very painful and embarrassing failure for Barnes and Noble.
Both Judie and I have had the “we can’t find your email” error. Here’s the message we got when we clicked the link sent to our email addresses:
Sorry, your email address doesn’t match our records.
If you received a shut-down announcement email from Fictionwise.com or eReader.com, it included an opt-in link to migrate your purchased titles from your Bookshelf to a NOOK Library. This opt-in link will only work for the Fictionwise or eReader.com customer it was sent to.
If you did not receive a shut-down announcement email, please contact Fictionwise or eReader.com support
to get your opt-in link.
Please note that your Bookshelf must have at least one purchased title to migrate to a NOOK Library.
My theory is that Barnes and Noble didn’t properly differentiate Fictionwise and eReader customers. Neither Judie nor I ever had a Fictionwise account, but each of us did have one at eReader. B&N’s links and landing page all refer to Fictionwise (in fact, the header says “Welcome, Fictionwise customer”.) Judie and I both had legacy eReader accounts, and we both had errors…and from purely anecdotal experience around the web, it seems like other eReader customers had the same error. Someone at B&N screwed up, and it’s alienating everyone whose eBook path took them through eReader.com at some point.
Of course, even if you were a Fictionwise customer, it isn’t all rainbows and sunshine. Over at Mobileread, it looks like almost everyone who tried to download their Fictionwise titles had the vast majority of their titles go missing. Most seem to be reporting somewhere around 10 moving over, and the rest just…didn’t.
Barnes and Noble has a list of titles that can’t be moved, but people are reporting books not on that list are also not being transferred. Be sure to check the full list, as it is pretty substantial. Also, it is odd that some books can’t transfer while others can. As a random test, I searched “Rabbit Run” by John Updike; it’s listed as a non-transferrable book, but B&N carries it as a NOOK title, so what’s the problem?
When I first heard there were immovable titles I assumed these were books that were in limbo for some reason; rights holders who couldn’t be reached to agree to sell through B&N, books that had fallen somewhere between out of print and out of copyright, etc. However, it looks really awful that someone could have purchased a legitimate ebook from Fictionwise, only to be told that for some mysterious reason they have to repurchase it if they want it in NOOK form!
This whole thing is a huge mess. Barnes and Noble had three years to plan for the eventual orderly demise of eReader and Fictionwise. This didn’t sneak up on them, this isn’t a fire sale, and there’s no excuse for the horrible failure of their transfer process. This is an embarrassment to Barnes and Noble and Fictionwise, and this is a slap in the face to legions of early adopters of eBooks, who built libraries in these early stores and are now discovering a promised upgrade path is nothing but smoke and mirrors.