Print media hasn't fared super well in the face of digital distribution. Turns out, a lot of people prefer live pixels to dead trees. So what's a company like Barnes & Noble -- with serious cash invested in both brick-and-mortar stores and the digital Nook ecosystem -- supposed to do in this new era of reading? The answer, apparently, lies in spinning off the Nook into an entirely new subsidiary company -- and giving Microsoft a 17.6 percent stake in the fresh venture. B&N did just that this morning.
Barnes & Noble is going into the weekend having launched a new eBook reader that allows you to read scary stories under the covers at night without any third party accessories. It's the Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight, the first and only E-Ink based eBook reader that lets you read in the dark, B&N claims. The adjustable GlowLight is said to produce uniform light across the Nook's display, and will do so "without disturbing a sleepy spouse" the way reading with a light on does.
Barnes & Noble on Tuesday officially introduced a previously rumored 8GB version of its low price Nook Tablet. By cutting internal storage in half from 16GB and reducing the amount of RAM to 512MB, B&N was able to shave $50 off the retail cost and sell the new version for $199, the same exact price as Amazon's competing Kindle Fire tablet, which happens to be the second most popular slate on the planet behind Apple's iPad.
Barnes & Noble's Nook Tablet costs $249 while Amazon's Kindle Fire sells for $199. There are other differences between these two competing 7-inch tablets, of course, but for many consumers, the only one that matters is the $50 price discrepancy. In the eyes of the average shopper, both of these slates are capable of doing the same thing, so why pay 25 percent more for the Nook Tablet? Tech savvy users can answer that question by running their fingers down the spec sheets, but at the end of the day, Amazon's Kindle Fire, now the second most popular tablet in the world behind the mighty iPad, is the one people are buying. If the Nook Tablet was also priced at $199, would that still be the case?
Owners of Barnes & Noble's Nook Color eBook reader now have access to the largest-ever software update to their device. According to B&N, the update adds over 100 feature enhancements, access to top video and music services, popular apps, comics, and more. One of the more subtle but most requested feature upgrades is the ability to read books in portrait or landscape mode, as well as more text and font size options to play with.
You didn't really think we'd let a new gadget emerge without a shout out to the crazy tech surgeons at iFixIt, did you? Having already taken apart Amazon's Kindle Fire and laid out the device in pieces, iFixIt has turned its attention to Barnes & Noble's Nook Tablet, the $249 competitor to Amazon's $199 slate. It's a good thing they did, too, because tearing into a Nook Tablet isn't for the faint of heart and you're likely to kill your device if you try this on your own.
More good news for budget conscious tablet shoppers. For those of you who pre-ordered a Nook Tablet from Barnes & Noble, it too is shipping early, just like Amazon's Kindle Fire and Kindle Touch. The Nook Tablet was supposed to ship out on November 18, 2011 (this Friday), but will be available for pick-up from B&N stores a day early.
Barnes & Noble is banking on better hardware and strategic relationships with third-party content providers being enough to sway potential Kindle Fire buyers over to the upcoming Nook Tablet. Officially unveiled this morning at a press event in New York, B&N confirmed what we already knew via leaked internal documents, which is that the Nook Tablet will be in stores November 17 for $249.
We like it when Amazon and Barnes & Noble go to war with each other. We like it because when the two sides try to undercut and one-up each other, the consumer wins every time. These two are responsible for sparking an eBook reader price war that brought significant savings to the eReader market in a short period of time, and it looks as though the two sides are getting ready to force the other's hand once more.
Many wondered if tablets and dedicated eBook readers could coexist, primarily because the former can do everything the latter can do, plus a whole lot more (except read comfortably in direct sunlight). But much lower prices and lighter devices have made sure that eBook readers remain relevant. On top of that, Barnes & Noble appears determined to blur the line between what constitutes a dedicated eReader and a full fledged tablet.