438709-tab-4-nookBarnes & Noble is emailing Nook owners explaining that, as of March 15, B&N will no longer offer third-party Android apps for sale via its app store. All previously-purchased apps will remain available for download, but no new ones will be sold. In-app purchases will no longer be supported, either. The notice points folks at the FAQ page on the matter for more information.

The rationale for the change is offered in full-on public-relations speak:

This change is being made to concentrate our focus and efforts on our core digital content business, which are Books and Newsstand, for our US customers.

We will continue offering to US customers our full service for NOOK Books, NOOK Magazines, and NOOK Newspapers on both NOOK devices and our standalone Reading Apps. We look forward to continuing to bring the best content discovery and reading experiences to our NOOK customers.

So, basically, the added effort and expense of listing third-party apps for sale was distracting Barnes & Noble from its core mission of providing digital content for Nook customers. That’s why B&N’s main competitor, Amazon, doesn’t do such a thing itself…oh, wait, it sort of does. And doesn’t allow Fire owners to add apps from Google Play. And continues to outcompete B&N, while it’s at it.

But the outlook isn’t entirely bleak for Nook tablet users. Unlike Amazon’s Fire tablets, the Nook has offered access to the official Google Play app store since 2013. B&N’s FAQ even explains that Nook owners can use that to continue adding third-party apps to their tablets.

As it turns out, this isn’t the only Nook media store undergoing major changes as of March 15. Nate Hoffelder reports at The Digital Reader that Barnes & Noble is shutting down its UK Nook store and transferring its customers to UK supermarket chain Sainsbury’s. It is also closing down Nook Video.

So, look at this as just another step in Barnes & Noble’s continuing mission to divest itself of any remaining shreds of relevance in the digital device world. Apparently, like Joshua in Wargames, B&N has decided that the only way to win in that market is not to play.

Update: Corrected date of the Play Store’s availability for Nook, which I had misremembered; thanks, Nate.


  1. “the Nook has offered access to the official Google Play app store since shortly after the Nook’s original launch”

    Nope. The Nook launched in 2009. The Nook Color, B&N’s first tablet-ish ereader, launched in 2010.

    B&N didn’t add Google Play until mid-2013, months after the disastrous holiday season that started the Nook on its downward spiral.

  2. I’ve often wondered if Amazon pays you to actively hate B&N or if you just naturally dislike dedicated bookstores. Doesn’t matter…comparing your “industry news” to others shows your discrimination. Always a negative slant where B&N is concerned. Thanks though, for giving everyone Amazon’s good health report regularly.

    • Shrug. If Barnes & Noble hadn’t ticked me off first, by doing things like buying and killing off my favorite e-book stores eReader and Fictionwise, disabling e-book downloads and sideloading, and generally shooting itself in both feet, I might have a little more patience with it. But not only is it screwing up left and right, it can’t even seem to try to pull its head out of its rear and actually compete with Amazon. It’s too busy adding toy sections and applying for liquor licenses. So the heck with it.

      The nice thing about being an opinion and commentary blogger is I don’t have to be neutral.

    • @Judge Dread: As publisher of TeleRead, let me reinforce what Chris says. We’re indeed an opinion and commentary blog with a few exceptions (for example, coverage of some events and speeches). TeleRead’s writers tend to be passionate on such issues as the betterment of life for e-booklovers and writers. B&N does not help its case when it actually makes products less flexible. I want Chris to have opinions on this and other matters as long as he strives for fairness and accuracy. As for bookstores other than Amazon, he goes case by case. Check out his call for publishers to give small brick-and-mortar bookstores better prices

      I’d agree with Chris there, but not necessarily on other matters. Although I think Amazon on the whole has done a lot for readers and writers, I worry about the future and hope that anti-trust regulators will keep a close eye on the company. I also have been pushing for Amazon’s products to be more accessible. I dislike the limited font choices (compared to alternatives) as well as the absence of TTS from recent E Ink Kindles.

      Let me also say I’d love to publish B&N’s side, whether the issue is DRM or no more sideloading. B&N, speak up!

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