Google Play changed their app development terms in early 2022. They currently charge 15% for the first $1 million in revenue and it goes up to 30%, once the threshold is reached. This means that selling digital content such as audiobooks and e-books is not financially viable, as they have low profit margins. This is mainly due to companies like Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Kobo acting as agents for the publishing house, which determine the prices. Barnes and Noble has announced that it will be disabling in-app purchases in the Nook app for Android on April 2, 2022. This means users will no longer be able to purchase books through the app.
Barnes and Noble will release a new version of their app, which will enable Consumption Only mode. Customers will enjoy the same curated bookstore they are used to, but they will no longer be able to make in-app purchases. They can add titles to their wishlist and the app will advise them to complete their purchase on BN.com or a NOOK reader. As always, a customer’s library of digital content syncs between devices and is “consumable” on any NOOK platform. All previous purchases made from the app will continue to be available in the library.
Barnes and Noble faces the same situation on Android as it does on iOS. Almost a decade ago Apple changed its policy so that all apps had to use their own billing system and overnight all the major e-book companies disabled the ability to purchase e-books and just treated them like an e-reader app. In terms of buying digital content through Google Play, Barnes and Noble is quite simply the first company to disable in-app purchases.
Rakuten is a Japanese company, which also owns Kobo. On the Rakuten Kobo website in Japanthey announced that they had in-app transactions disabled on March 28, 2022. Not sure if this only affects the Japanese market, or if it will go global. I’ve reached out to Kobo to find out more and will update this post when I hear from their PR team.
Michael Kozlowski has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for twelve years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and The New York Times. He lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.