Barnes & Noble will give away free ebooks in stores, including big-6 titles


Credit: Barnes & Noble

We know that Barnes & Noble (s BKS) has the technology to process ebook transactions in its stores, and with a new holiday promotion the company announced Thursday, we’re seeing more ways that technology can work. Between December 20 and 24, customers who go to a Barnes & Noble physical store and buy an ebook from a list of 20 qualifying ebooks — including The HobbitLife of Pi and the entire Hunger Games trilogy — can “instant-gift” another ebook on that list for free.

Notably, the list includes new and bestselling titles from big-six publishers who settled in the DOJ’s ebooks case — Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins and Hachette. The settlement allows retailers nearly unlimited discounting on settling publishers’ ebooks — including giving away ebooks for free — but this is the first such promotion we’ve seen. From Barnes  & Noble’s perspective, the buy-one, get-one offer has the advantage of being difficult for Amazon’s algorithms to match since the transaction has to take place in stores (which for some shoppers might be a deal breaker) and none of the books are actually listed online as free. (That said, it will be interesting to watch today to see if and how Amazon responds with Kindle prices.)

Customers pick the books they want and go to a cashier. “At checkout, the cashier will ask you to provide two email addresses, one for your Nook Book and another for your gift recipient’s. The gift recipient will receive his/her email immediately, or you can request a gift receipt to give by hand at a later time.” The recipient gets “an access code that can be redeemed for the free book at BN.COM/redeem.”

Here’s the full list of eligible ebooks, with Barnes & Noble ebook prices current as of Thursday morning:

Alex Cross by James Patterson (Hachette/Little, Brown, ebook list price $9.99, Nook price $6.99)

America Again by Stephen Colbert (Hachette/Grand Central, ebook list price $12.99, Nook price $11.04)

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver (HarperCollins, $12.99)

The Astonishing Secret of Awesome Man by Michael Chabon (HarperCollins, $12.99)

Back to Blood by Tom Wolfe (Hachette/Little, Brown, ebook list price $14.99, Nook price $12.74)

Brave Read-Along Storybook (Disney, $6.99)

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel by Jeff Kinney (Abrams, ebook list price $13.95, Nook price $6.65)

Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo (Thomas Nelson, ebook list price $16.99, Nook price $8.50)

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, ebook list price $14.99, Nook price $7.50)

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic, trilogy list price $48.97, Nook price $28.29)

Jacques Pépin New Complete Techniques (Black Dog & Leventhal, ebook list price $24.99, Nook price $13.74)

Life of Pi by Yann Martel (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, ebook list price $15.99, Nook price $9.99)

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman (Simon & Schuster, ebook list price $13.99, Nook price $9.99)

The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks (Hachette/Grand Central, ebook list price $7.99, Nook price $5.99)

The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan (Disney, ebook list price $19.99, Nook price $10)

One Dish at a Time by Valerie Bertinelli (Rodale, ebook list price $23.99, Nook price $13.19)

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (Simon & Schuster/MTV, ebook list price $10.20, Nook price $3.99)

The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, ebook list price $18.95, Nook price $9.99)

The Shack by William Paul Young (Hachette, ebook list price $7.99, Nook price $3.99)

Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin (Simon & Schuster, ebook list price $15.30, Nook price $9.99)


Adam Daniel John Thompson

I wish Barnes & Noble were in Australia, as they are the only book store who at least partially understands how to work in the digital age.

Thad McIlroy

This is the fifth or six Barnes & Noble promotion this month, most of them focused on the Nook, but some on special gift themes and on toys and games.

The cynic might call them desperate. I’m on the other side, impressed to see Barnes & Noble really focused on appealing and appropriate Christmas promotions.

Scott Nicholson

Great, drive to the store to get an ebook. Now THAT’S progressive thinking!

JoAnne Kenrick

Same thing ran through my mind, Scott! Obviously this is about getting people in the store to buy other things while they’re there, rather than actually thinking of the customer. My nearest B&N store is half hour drive away, so I’ll be passing on this offer.

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