Starting next week, users of Barnes & Noble’s Android app will no longer be able to purchase digital books within the app, and that appears to be due to a Google Play policy deadline that’s been in the works for more than a year and a half. And it’s not just Barnes & Noble that’s affected; You can’t buy Amazon’s Audible titles with a debit or credit card, even on the latest version of the Android app.
The changes seem to stem from Google’s insistence that apps use Google Play‘s billing systems. Developers have long criticized Apple and Google for requiring the use of their own billing systems, in large part because of the so-called “app store tax” on many transactions.
Google updated its guidelines in September 2020 to clarify which types of in-app transactions require the use of the Google Play billing system, but Barnes & Noble and Audible are only now making changes – and at the last minute too . Google originally stated September 30, 2021 as the deadline, and then offered a six-month extension to March 31, 2022 — which, as of this writing, was yesterday. Both Audible and Barnes & Noble pointed to Google’s policies as the reason for the changes, with Audible even linking us to this September 2020 post.
Google spokesman Dan Jackson also directed us to this page, “Understanding Google Play’s Payments policy,” to explain Audible and B&N’s actions. It states that “apps that use an alternative in-app billing system must remove it to comply with the payment policy.”
How could it affect users? Specifically, Barnes & Noble says that “effective April 4, 2022 with the release of NOOK Software version 6.1, the ability to purchase has been removed from the Barnes & Noble Nook app for Android and the Nook HD 10,” developed with Lenovo. ‘ on a page of his website. The company made a somewhat clearer statement in an e-mail to a edge Employee on Friday: “You can no longer buy digital content in the B&N NOOK Android app.”
According to a support page, Amazon’s Audible will no longer be able to buy titles with a debit or credit card in the app from Friday. Additionally, any new Audible memberships launched in the app from Friday will be billed through Google Play, not Audible directly. You can still use Audible credits to buy books in the app, and you can also buy more credits in the app.
You might be wondering why Google is enforcing this just a week after announcing what could be a major policy change: a pilot program that will do so allow developers to use their own billing systems. We were wondering that too, but Jackson pointed out that participants in the pilot must offer Google’s billing system In front they can include their own.
Currently, Spotify is the only named company in a pool of “a small number of participating developers.” Audible spokesman Kamian Allen said the company had nothing to say about participating in the program and Barnes & Noble did not respond to our questions.