Scott Marlowe, fantasy author

Scott Marlowe

Author of the Alchemancer and Assassin Without a Name fantasy series

The nook: More competition for Amazon's Kindle

10533_188131055019_9122810019_4293351_2828455_n Barnes & Noble has released for pre-order their Kindle-killer: the nook (lowercase 'n' on purpose).

'Kindle-killer' is perhaps a bit of an overstatement given that the Kindle owns the e-book reader market right now. But the Nook's imminent arrival is what caused Amazon to preemptively drop the price of the Kindle, so its impact has already been felt.

And make no mistake: e-book reading devices are important not only to Amazon and Barnes & Noble, but especially to book/e-book publishers.

Why?

Because, since the arrival of Kindle and the Sony Reader, reading is up:

Amazon […] says that people with Kindles now buy 3.1 times as many books as they did before owning the device. That factor is up from 2.7 in December 2008. So a reader who had previously bought eight books from Amazon would now purchase, on average, 24.8 books, a rise from 21.6 books.

Sony adds this:

Sony […] says that its e-book customers, on average, download about eight books a month from its online library. That is far more than the approximately 6.7 books than the average American book buyer purchased for the entire year in 2008, according to Bowker, a publishing industry tracking firm.

More reading by consumers means more profit for the publishers. With a price war being waged between Amazon and Wal Mart (and now Target), there is real concern by the publishers over margins and profit.

There will no doubt be an exhaustive series of technical articles detailing the differences between the nook and the Kindle (here's one, from B&N's perspective). For now, though, we can take a look at this feature set from Barnes & Noble's eReading Blog:

  • Download eBooks, magazines and newspapers in seconds flat
  • Enjoy eBooks on an incredibly readable E Ink® reading screen
  • Navigate your eBooks and other content on a color touchscreen
  • Sync your eBooks to your iPhone, iPod Touch, BlackBerry, Mac or PC
  • Share eBooks with friends using one of our eReader clients
  • Read any eBook for free in a Barnes & Noble store
  • Get special content and promotions in any Barnes & Noble store

The one thing I really like about Barnes & Noble selling an e-reader is that I expect I'll be able to visit my local store and demo the reader. That's something you can't do with the Kindle. I would keep in mind, though, that the nook is a first generation product. Even the Kindle has gone through one iteration now, and I think in many cases people who bought the initial model wished they had waited. This may or may not be the case with the nook.

As far as e-book formats go, the nook supports EPUB, the open e-book format. This is huge. Most of the new readers post-Kindle support this format. Kindle, by comparison, only supports their own proprietary format (the DX model also supports PDF). People do not want to be locked into proprietary formats. They want open formats, which allows them to view any content on any device. Kindle-formatted e-books are viewable only on the Kindle and it's associated applications (like the iPhone Kindle app).

I'll leave you with possibly one of the most tantalizing features of the nook:

The Nook also has software that will detect when a consumer walks into a store so that it can push out coupons and other promotions like excerpts from forthcoming books or suggestions for new reading. While in stores, Nook owners will be able to read any e-book through streaming software.

In my opinion, it's this sort of interactivity which eventually will lead to the demise of the printed book.

The nook is available now for pre-order, will be available for purchase Nov. 30, and be in stores Nov. 28.

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Comments (5) -

  • Mark Lord

    10/28/2009 8:41:36 AM | Reply

    Scott - you may have seen this already, but there are rumours of a new Apple device coming next year - called a "slate" - could be a Kindle killer perhaps for e-books?

  • Scott Marlowe

    10/28/2009 8:57:52 AM | Reply

    I wonder if that's the much talked about/much rumored Apple Tablet PC (can I call something from Apple a PC? ;-) ). I remember reading that Jobs is not a fan of the single-use device, and that people want multi-function a la the iPhone.

    If the Slate is the Apple tablet, then great for the tablet market--they'll no doubt bring a lot of innovation to that space. But a tablet is going to cost a whole lot more than a dedicated e-reading device. E-readers are expected to hit $150 by next year as competition continues to bring prices down, or so I hear.

  • Mark Lord

    10/29/2009 5:07:27 AM | Reply

    I'm not sure, the issue as I see it with the Kindle, Sony Reader et al is that they all have their disadvantages and are limited in one way or another. If I was Apple I'd be looking at a platform that's flexible and adaptable like the iphone to make e-book reading more practical. I think that definitely for the educational market, where you want to make notes on text they could be on to a winner... again.

  • Yachika Verma

    11/24/2009 4:14:28 AM | Reply

    I run a blog called content writer online. Your blog post has really helped me. Thanks a lot.

  • coupon codes

    3/30/2010 1:09:00 PM | Reply

    The Nook also has software that will detect when a consumer walks into a store so that it can push out coupons and other promotions like excerpts from forthcoming books or suggestions for new reading. While in stores, Nook owners will be able to read any e-book through streaming software.

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