Don’t buy a nook if you ever plan on leaving the US

As you can infer from the title, I’m a nook owner and a recent emigrant from the US. I moved to the UK about two and a half months ago. When our movers schleped in all my, my husband’s, and my kid’s boxes of books, they told us to get an ereader. But I just can’t resist a used bookstore.

Anyway, so I do own a nook and recently had an issue with it. For some unknown reason, one of the ebooks that I purchased through Barnes and Noble’s website relocked itself. I bought the book in December, read it, then wanted to reread it the other day but I couldn’t. To unlock an ebook, you have to enter in the number of the credit card used to buy the book. Unfortunately, the credit card I used to purchase that book had been stolen, so this task was not so easy. So I went to Barnes and Noble’s customer support. I was told that this would be an easy fix. Just delete the information from my stolen credit card, enter a new card, then reset my nook. Resetting my nook would delete all the books currently on it, but I could then download them again from the Barnes and Noble website (though I’d have to unlock them again).

Dutifully, I complied. Again, this deleted and relocked not just the problem book from my nook, but all the ebooks I had purchased from Barnes and Noble in the 2 1/2 that I had the nook. I went to re-download the books to my nook and unlock them, and it didn’t work. I tried again. Nothing. So I went back to Barnes and Nobles website to ask what was going on.

For the first time in my 2 1/2 years of owning a nook and “purchasing” ebooks, I learn that I can only do so with a US credit card with a US billing address. Not only can I not buy anymore books through Barnes and Noble, I can’t even access the ones I had “bought” before. I don’t think this is a licensing issue. I can still download my books from a foreign IP address. I just can’t read them.

I was not told this when I purchased the nook. I was not told this the first time my nook acted funky and customer service advised me to reset it (I was also abroad and chatting with tech support from a foreign IP address when that happened). I don’t remember reading this when I had “purchased” ebooks on the website. I was not told that, if I leave the country, the nook would be of little use to me and all the money that I had spent on reading material wouldn’t allow me to read those books ever again.


About emmawolf

I'm a freelance writer living in Baltimore with my husband, son, and two cats. I'm working on editing my first novel. I love reading, traveling, and the cello.
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8 Responses to Don’t buy a nook if you ever plan on leaving the US

  1. Bummer. 😦 But good information to have!

    • emmawolf says:

      It kind of reminds me of the quote from Pirates of the Caribbean. Something like “perhaps on the rare occasion when pursuing the right course demands an act of piracy, piracy itself can be the right course.” I don’t want to be a pirate. I want the authors and editors and publishers et al. to get paid for the work they do. The availability of emedia has helped combat piracy more than laws like SOPA could. International licensing agreements are one thing, but I feel like when the companies cut off access to emedia for reasons and don’t explain or offer an alternative, why shouldn’t we turn to piracy?

      • There does appear to be a complete failure on the part of the corporation to understand or respond to the customer in anything like an appropriate way. I wonder if this is just part of the nature of corporations? They get to be too big and too focused on income to pay attention to anything else and then don’t have the efficiency within their infrastructure to correct it easily.

        • emmawolf says:

          I think that’s why I felt I had to blog about it. Life is becoming increasingly international, and I’m pretty shocked by this strange oversight. It does seem more like an infrastructure issue than anything else. The other day I bought a book with a US card/address from the UK and had no problem (soon I will try with my UK address). So it doesn’t seem like an international IP/licensing thing. It seems just that their database for storing addresses can’t handle zip codes that are alphanumeric.

  2. Heather says:

    Okay, this really sucks. I can maybe understand not being able to buy *new* books, but not being able to read the books YOU’VE ALREADY PURCHASED is a huge rip-off. HUGE. Boo, Barnes & Noble. Just one more reason for me not to like them as I used to.

    • emmawolf says:

      I can read them on my computer on the Barnes and Noble website, so that tells me it’s not a licensing thing. It also lets me enter in my credit card with UK billing address on the website. I want to find out if it will let me purchase a book with that address but not unlock it. Because that would be something.

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