The discount does not apply to anything ebookish (except some, perhaps all, covers)
Publishers set the prices for books mostly, not B&N. I suspect the book sales essentially tanked and they are trying to unload the printed inventory... but will still gladly charge you full price for the ebook.
I don't get it either.
If you do have the Barnes and Noble credit card and make it your default card for ebook purchases, you do get a 5% discount on your credit card bill.
The main publishers (Agency 5) have forced "Agency Pricing" for eBooks on B&N and other retailers. This means that B&N, Amazon and everyone else, has no say in the price of these eBooks, and they can't even provide discounts through coupons, clubs or other means. Because of this, B&N simply doesn't provide discounts on any eBooks.
Anyone who's said "e-books are supposed to be cheaper" is a fool. The best argument for this has been based on the costs to the publisher being cheaper, but that's silly. First, there's no evidence that the costs truly are less to any significant amount. Second, the costs play an extremely small role in the final price, basically only setting a bottom price that must be charged to make a profit. The actual price is based on what the market is willing to pay, and so far the market seems very willing to pay the prices currently used.
The specific example you gave, "Eat, Pray, Love", is probably due to price cutting the paperback in order to clean out surplass (the list price is much higher than the price the book is being sold). That's something that will never happen to eBooks.
Generally, the prices of eBooks are less, or at least not more. Doing some more thorough research will prove this to you. Isolated cases have been reported, but most of them have been pricing errors, and they are usually corrected. There are some cases, like this one, which are explainable and understandable.
You know I never thought about it that way, that physical books can be cheaper d/t overstock and that ebooks will never have that problem there will never be a "clearance" sell on e books...
but now that i am thinking of it, it makes sense.
Ebooks are great for the publishers...they are essentially selling you text LOL sorta like selling air.
Since there is nothing really physical about a ebook they are just selling copies of files this was weird to me at first to pay $7.99 for a file LOL but I had to keep reminding myself it is a book. Just a different format
I said this once a long time ago, but it's probably buried somewhere in the dead threads.
Barnes and Noble did not offer member discounts on ebooks even before the agency model went into effect. Sure, the agency model is a convenient scapegoat in this situation, but don't think anything would be different if the model didn't exist.
There is simply no reason for Barnes and Noble to offer an additional discount on ebooks.
Just think about it for a minute. B&N doesn't give you a membership discount because they like you, or because they want to be your friend. They offer the membership rewards program because they want to incentivize you to purchase your books at B&N over one of their competitors. I, for one, was certainly more likely to order a book from B&N (or to buy in-store) over one of their competitors because of the price advantage, as well as the psychological "push" to buy from B&N. That's not to say that I never bought from Borders or Amazon, but all other things being equal, B&N had my loyalty.
But the nook already provides another avenue for this behavior. It's called the "shop" button on the nook. You get the same psychological "push" to buy from B&N through the nook because it's the only store available on the device. Sure there are people who will shop around (and I, personally, get most books from the library), but this is a relatively small percentage of people. Even I, who is an obsessive comparison shopper, and library hound, will buy books from B&N (when buying is the only option) over a competitor - and I will do this even when the B&N book is slightly more expensive (say, within $1), because the convenience of things like wireless delivery may be worth the extra money (now, a $5 difference will lead me to hunt down a wifi connection for my laptop so that I can get to sideloading!).
Even if 20-30% of people are willing to take the time to "shop around" and go through the sideloading rigamarole, that leaves 70-80% of nook owners who will never go anywhere except the shop button on their nook. B&N has already captured their loyalty. What advantage does B&N get from giving an additional discount?
If you really look around, you'll see that the only sites that offer any sort of loyalty/discount programs on ebooks these days (to the extent that they even can with the agency model), they're mostly 3rd-party ebook sellers who don't have the natural market that the nook (or the kindle store) creates.
I'm not saying I'd turn down a discount if B&N offered one, but you have to remember that they are a profit-making corporation (at least in theory - actual "profits" may be harder to come by!), and not your pal.
"because it's the only shop option on the device"
This is true and yet it's not. You can buy google ebooks from independent bookshops (go to indiebound.org) or any small online press that sells epub or pdf format books online and sideload them from your computer onto your nook. You're not a captive audience, really, because you can buy elsewhere with just a few extra steps (you can also borrow books from some library systems if they're large and use a lending software like Overdrive). That said, however, it is easiest to buy from bn.com with just that click of the button.
So I wholeheartedly agree that bn.com should marshal customer goodwill by extending the membership program to ebooks, even if it continues to exclude the nook hardware/electronics from the discount (understandable, some ways, it's sunk cost and the money's really in the ebooks and emagazines). Because we can buy ebooks elsewhere, and the market will only continue to expand-- and eventually, the amazon/bn war over pricing and code-locking will end, and amazon will realize that by kindle/code-locking (they adopted the lend-me option awfully fast, they know how to learn) they're losing customers who buy only on price, and will open their ebooks to nook customers too.
This will be the point at which bn will lose price-oriented customers to amazon and other etailers who charge less for ebooks, when they could have just given their "valued members" their membership discount and retained some goodwill and customer loyalty. bn needs to understand that whatever publishers do re: pricing on ebooks (the black box/Schroedinger's car of publisher pricing determinations and modeling notwithstanding) e-consumers are mobile enough to vote with their feet as the market expands-- which I think it will, virally so.
Ever since the major publishers took over pricing and made the booksellers distributors there has been no "price war" between Amazon and B&N (within the major publishers). There are very few popular books that Amazon and B&N actually control the prices on these days.
I was told, after repeated inquiries to B&N, the following on 22 October:
"Because our eBook prices are deeply discounted from the Publisher's List
Price, the Barnes & Noble Member's discount is not available on the
purchase of digital content (including but not limited to digital books,
magazines, and periodicals); certain digital devices; downloadable
Audiobooks in MP3 or any other format."
I promptly told B&N that I WOULD not be renewing my membership, as it was not cost-effective. I'll buy my e-books from B&N and paper / hard-cover books from Amazon.