Barnes & Noble’s Nook has slowly been making inroads into the UK market, selling its ereaders at grocery chain Sainsbury’s and through the bookstore chain Blackwells. Now it seems things are looking up for B&N with today’s announcement that UK publisher Pearson has bought a 5% stake in Nook Media for $89.5M. Previously, Microsoft had invested in Nook Media, which has been aggressively pursuing the academic market in the U.S., with Microsoft now owning a 16.8% share in the company. In the UK I expect to see B&N adopt the same strategy of pursuing the academic market, where the UK has led the way in converting from print textbooks to digital, which reduces student costs and improves portability.
As far as the consumer market goes, books published to B&N’s PubIt!, and whose authors have indicated worldwide rights, will have their titles made available automatically in the UK at a price converted from the U.S. one. Likewise, UK sales will be converted to U.S. dollars and paid as before.
Authors who have published directly to PubIt! have the option to set a fixed UK price via their dashboard, but so far it seems most aggregators are not providing the means for their clients to do likewise. If this is an issue for you, contact your aggregator for more information.
Royalty rates for books sold in the UK are as follows: for Nook books with a list price at or between £1.50 and £7.99, B&N pay 65% of list; and for NOOK books with a list price at or below £1.49, or at or greater than £8.00 (but not more than £120.00 and not less than £0.75), B&N pay 40% of list. Note that the price you set is exclusive of VAT; VAT will be added to the displayed list price as is required by UK law, but the royalty will be paid on the sale price less VAT. Unfortunately, B&N do not specify the rate of VAT, whether it is 20% or 3%, which depends on how the company is registered in Europe.
For further details of PubIt! sales in the UK, see the PubIt website FAQ page under “International.”