Unlocking Nook books? No?

I currently own both a Kindle and a Nook.

One of the few selling points of the Nook over the Kindle, is that you can download books from places other than Nook’s store, AND that Nook books you download could be read on other e-readers. So if you got fed up with the Nook, or they stopped making it altogether, (which seems to suggested in the technology press every other week is just about to happen), you could buy a Kobo, and move all your books to that.

Except you can’t. By default, Nook books are locked, so attempting to put them on another device, requires an unlock code. A bit of searching, I worked out the code, and all was fine. A few months ago, I had this sorted, but now it no longer seems to work for newly purchased Nook books.
At time of writing this, I still seem to be able to download Nook books I bought a while ago, but a test 29p book I bought this morning just doesn’t have the options.

How it used to work:

A lot of places on the (frankly rubbish) UK Nook site, take you round and round in circles, giving you the option to “download” your orders, but actually just sending them to your devices again, so forget that.

If you haven’t already, download and install Adobe Digital Editions. This is quite poor software with a terrible clunky half-finished interface that looks like it was designed about 15 years ago, and where nothing does quite what you expect it to. But you do need it, so:

Then, go to the US Nook site (because the UK one is rubbish, as I’ve already mentioned), and login using your UK login.
Go to: https://mynook.barnesandnoble.com/library.html
You should see a list of all the books you’ve bought. In my case, the 29p test one has a big blue button labelled “download” which gives a prompt of “oops!” when pressed (really fucking helpful error message that is, too!) but doesn’t let me download the file onto my Mac. The other books, some blue text also says “download”, and THAT download option works.


Click the “download” text next to one of your books, and the file downloads to your computer.
Note: You won’t be able to open this in Calibre (or other e-pub reading software) because it’s copy-protected.
Locate the file and open it. It should open in Adobe Digital Editions.
If you need to create an Adobe ID to use this software, do it. I can’t remember if you do or not, and it won’t prompt me, because I’ve done this step already.

Now I forget the correct sequence here (and it won’t show me because it’s already authorised/unlocked), but I think you’ll get asked to create a digital editions account, and then get asked for an unlock code. But what is this secret code?

Various places online tell you things like:

“The unlock code are the credit card number and name of the default credit card of your B&N account”

Which is all well and helpful, but how? Do they want the credit card number with or without spaces? Do they want your name with or without spaces? Your full actual name, or your name as it appears on your credit card?

Well, in my case, the unlock code that worked for me was:
“Ben Park” – so my name as written, not as on my credit card. Include the space between your names, and I capitalised the first letter of first/surname.
And the unlock code is the credit card number. In full, with no spaces. (e.g. “1234567812345678” )

You can then unlock them in Adobe Digital Editions. When you authorise another device for use with the software, you should then be able to transfer your books to that other device.
As mentioned, I have a Kindle AND a Nook. I can’t actually try this test of transferring books to my other device, as I don’t have any other device it’ll work with. There may be an authorise/deauthorise requirement to do that, but I’m not sure.

End note:

The fact that this no longer appears to work, would suggest that Nook are locking their bookstore books into their devices. Amazon do this and it’s annoying, but it’s worse with Nook because:

1. Nook have discontinued the PC/Mac software: http://www.engadget.com/2013/06/11/barnes-noble-nook-for-pc-mac/ – you can still download it, but it’s unsupported, and the Mac software page says it won’t work on OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion) or newer.

(Apparently this other app they make still works: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/nookstudy/index.asp – although some reports say it doesn’t work very reliably.)
So assuming this unsupported/discontinued software no longer works reliably, if you buy a book which has pictures and you only have a Nook Simple Touch (which doesn’t show colour), then you can’t open it on the PC/Mac and see them in colour (only a tablet/smartphone). With a Kindle, you could use the PC/Mac Kindle app (or a tablet/smartphone).

But more importantly than that:

2. Nook books are always more expensive than Amazon. I’ve just carried out a price comparison test, which will be in my next blog post, but AT BEST, Nook seems to match prices. It very rarely beats Amazon.

And if after all the above, you’re fed up with bookstores and their stupid locked-to-devices books, then see this site, which explains how to remove DRM from them entirely. Nook books on your Kindle? I’ll have some of that.