Google crackdown means you won’t be able to buy Barnes & Noble eBooks on Android

Google crackdown means you won’t be able to buy Barnes & Noble eBooks on Android

Google crackdown means you won’t be able to buy Barnes & Noble ebooks on Android

 

Users of Barnes & Noble's Android app will no longer be able to buy digital books through the app starting next week, owing to a Google Play policy deadline that has been in the works for more than a year and a half. It's not only Barnes & Noble; the latest edition of Amazon's Android app now makes it impossible to purchase Audible titles using a debit or credit card.


Google's desire that developers use Google Play's invoicing infrastructure appears to have prompted the adjustments. Apple and Google have long been chastised for mandating developers to use their own billing systems, in part due to the so-called "app store tax" on many transactions.


Google clarified which types of in-app sales required the use of the Google Play billing system in September 2020, but Barnes & Noble and Audible are only now making modifications — and at the last minute. Google set a deadline of September 30th, 2021, and then offered a six-month extension to March 31st, 2022 – which was yesterday as I write this. Both Audible and Barnes & Noble blamed the changes on Google's restrictions, with Audible even directing us to that September 2020 post.


You may be asking why Google is enforcing this just a week after announcing a potentially significant policy shift: a trial program allowing developers to use their own pricing systems. We thought the same thing, but Jackson reminded out that trial participants must first use Google's billing system before adding their own.


In a pool of "a small number of participating developers," Spotify is now the only company listed. Audible spokeswoman Kamian Allen said the firm had no information to provide on its participation in the program, and Barnes & Noble has yet to respond to our inquiries.


In order to explain Audible and B&N's decisions, Google spokesperson Dan Jackson linked us to this website, "Understanding Google Play's Payments policy." "Apps that use an alternative in-app billing mechanism must delete it in order to comply with the Payments policy," it says.


What impact might it have on users? On a page on its website, Barnes & Noble states that "the opportunity to purchase has been disabled from the Barnes & Noble Nook App for Android and the Nook HD 10" Designed with Lenovo as of April 4, 2022, with the release of NOOK Software Version 6.1."


Through an email sent to a Verge staffer on Friday, the firm was a little more forthright: "You will no longer be able to make purchases of digital material in the B&N NOOK Android app."


According to a help page on Amazon's Audible, you can no longer buy titles with a debit or credit card on the app as of Friday. Furthermore, any new Audible memberships initiated in the app after Friday will be billed through Google Play rather than Audible. You'll still be able to buy books with Audible credits in the app, and you'll be able to buy extra credits there as well.


You might be asking why Google is enforcing this only a week after announcing a potentially significant policy shift: a trial program allowing developers to use their own pricing systems. We thought the same thing, but Jackson reminded out that trial participants must first offer Google's billing system before adding their own.


Spotify is now the only company identified in a group of "a small number of engaged developers." Audible spokeswoman Kamian Allen said the business had no information on its participation in the scheme, and Barnes & Noble has yet to respond to our inquiries.

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