Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Formatting for B&N Nook – Ouch! This is painful

Over the past couple days, I’ve been trying to get Dead Dwarves, Dirty Deeds up on Nook.
First, I had to contend with Barnes and Noble hiding the Nook self-publishing system. I couldn’t remember what it was called, but the B&N Nook web pages don’t mention anything about publishing anywhere! At least Amazon puts a link on the Kindle Store pages that says: “Publish on Kindle”. On their Nook pages, B&N provides absolutely no way to find out how to publish on Nook. Ouch! I guess they don’t want more authors to publish.
However, I endeavored to persevere. I searched on Bing for Nook publishing and finally learned that their publishing method is called pubit! So, I go back to and look under all the Nook menus, but to no avail. There is no link to pubit! anywhere that I can find.
So, I use the B& search function for pubit. It gives me the Complete Works of Shakespeare. Sigh.
They sure are making this difficult for people to find out what is going on with publishing on Nook.
Finally, I search Bing again and find some article that gives me a link to the pubit! Home page. To save anyone else the headaches this caused me, here is the super secret hidden link that B&N doesn’t want you to find:
So, I create an account, which isn’t too hard and bookmark the My Titles page.
The next time I go to the page, it takes me back to the pubit! Home page. However, there is no Sign-in option. Only a Create a pubit! account and Sign-out options. How the heck do I sign back in to the site?
If I click Sign-out it takes me to the Sign in page.
Anyway, now I’ve created an account and figured out how to get back into that account. Next up, create a title.
The process to set up titles is pretty easy: title, cover, author, publisher, categories, description, etc. All of this is easy.
Until you get to formatting your ebook.
B&N uses the .epub system for their ebooks, and if you search their help you can find info on this open source, industry standard for publishing ebooks. Well, it’s actually composed of 3 open standards: OPS, OPF, and OCF. Don’t concern yourself with what these acronyms mean. It’s all garbleydegook.
B&N gives you an 11-page PDF, PubIt! ePub Formatting Guide.
Surprisingly, this PDF does not give you any specifics on how to format your ebook. It doesn’t tell you how to do the table of contents, or insert a page break, or center text, or insert line breaks. It doesn’t give any examples of how to duplicate how that Nook page looks.
Instead, it tells you about the file requirements and meta data needed for Nook ebooks, plus SIX pages of basic Latin Unicode characters. What?
This PDF tells you a bunch of annoying things about the annoying .epub format. Basically, it’s about 10 times more difficult to do things for Nook than it is to do the same things for Kindle. The PDF doesn’t tell you the correct names of files, uses unnecessary terms, and is generally a poor instruction guide.
It took me about an hour to figure how to format things the way I wanted in Kindle. It took me about an hour to find instructions on how to format for Nook! More ouch.
Nook really needs to hire some good technical writers, web designers, and marketing folks. They are making it way too hard to publish on Nook.
When I figure out how to format for Nook, I’ll post instructions. I do not expect to be in a good mood at that time. ;)


  1. Actually maybe you could write a short guide to publishing on Nook and then sell it :)

  2. Just a thought here... Why not go with Smashwords? Since they send books to Apple, B&N, Sony, Kobo, and other sites, you get very broad distribution for very little effort. And you're supporting the 'little guy'.

    I see a problem with PubIt. If you publish via PubIt, you get a little "PubIt!" logo on your ebook page on B& If you publish via a large publisher (or via Smashwords, incidentally), you do not. I strongly suspect that unless they are very cautious about quality control, the "PubIt!" symbol could end up seen as synonymous with bad writing, stuff not worth getting.

    Plus Smashwords has some much more complete guides, and since they do export to B&N, I am guessing that their format works on the Nook. Haven't tested that theory yet, mind you... Should do so, but not owning a Nook complicates that.

    Check the links toward the bottom of the page here:

  3. Kevin,

    Interesting comments. Although, I've been looking around at having a 3rd party do all of my formatting. One, in particular, said they don't work with Smashwords because their platform is so unstable?

    Can you comment?

  4. Good question. I haven't tried them yet, to be honest. I'd suggest that one reason people who make their living doing conversions might not like Smashwords is that Smashwords does for free what they charge for... ;) I haven't heard any word at all that Smashwords is unstable, and I've done some reading around. I have heard of conversion issues, but I am unsure how much of that is user error (failing to comply with their conversion requirements) and how much is occasional issues in the actual conversion.

    I've only done epub conversions via Calibre so far. Those have looked fine, but again - I don't own a Nook, so not that easy to test. =/

    I suggested Smashwords because they might be a viable route to try... And even if not, the manual for their conversions might hold some helpful hints for converting for Nook, since their books go up on the Nook store, among other places.

  5. I'm thinking Smashwords or Pubit as my next stop too, so this is very useful to me.

  6. Hi,

    Did you try "Sigil" ? It's a free open source softare "advertized" as a WYSIWIG epub editor.

    You may also want to try to directly convert your book to epub using Calibre...

  7. Thanks for the suggestions. I'll look in to Smashwords and Sigil and let you know how difficult it is in another post.

  8. Did you ever get information on how to insert page breaks? My little book is: My Name is Lillian and I'm an Alcoholic (and an Atheist): How I got and stayed sober in AA without all the god stuff.
    all my nice chapters are running together. I wish it looked as nice on the nook as it does on the kindle.

  9. Lillian, I just published Dead Dwarves, Dirty Deeds on Nook. I formatted it myself in the epub format. It was very difficult. But, as far as I can tell, the only way to get a new page in there is to put each chapter into a different xhtml file. This can only be done when you manually set up your epub files. If anyone else knows of another way to do it, please let me know.