B&N’s new Nook Press: Who Owns Your eBook?

Barnes and Noble’s new Nook Press platform is making headlines among bloggers but what I haven’t seen addressed yet is what happens to your original content if you decide to leave Nook Press. The Terms and Conditions state that:

You hereby grant to Barnes & Noble, its distributors, licensees and partners a non-exclusive, worldwide, irrevocable right and license to make your eBooks available for sale, marketing, display, distribution and promotion in any commercially available electronic or digitized format or on any electronic device platform whether now existing or hereafter created or developed.

While a separate clause allows you to terminate the sale of your ebook on Nook Press, and that B&N “will make commercially reasonable efforts to terminate the future sale of your eBook by the tenth (10th) business day after you submit your request for withdrawal, provided however that Barnes & Noble shall continue to be able to distribute such eBook to past purchasers of that eBook,” and another clause indicates you retain copyright, what many authors will miss is that the ebook withdrawal clause is specifically restricted to Nook Press only, not B&N or its affiliates.

What this means is that B&N could distribute your book on other platforms or through other retailers even if you withdraw from Nook Press. And, much like the alleged intention of Google Books is to eventually sell copies of intellectual property once the copyright expires — and recent attacks on our copyright suggest the life-plus-70-years most authors currently enjoy is likely to be eradicated sooner rather than later — the contract allows B&N to sell and distribute in perpetuity any content uploaded via its platform.

Such an irrevocable clause also exists in the Kindle Direct Publishing Terms and Conditions, something I did not notice when I first signed up to KDP. One has to wonder what Amazon’s intention is granting themselves an irrevocable right. Personally, I think the intention of Google, Amazon, B&N and pretty much everyone else is to publish our content once it becomes public domain, in a digital format that, having already been provided to them by we authors, requires no outlay of capital to execute.

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