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.
Following the recent release of the ad-enabled Kindle with a $25 price cut, Amazon today announced yet another potential cost saving feature, Kindle Library Lending. Launching later this year, this feature will allow Kindle customers to borrow Kindle books from over 11,000 libraries in the U.S. just as you would do with physical books. The new feature works with all Kindle devices, as well as Kindle reading apps, so even if you're not invested in the hardware, you can still 'check out' an eBook.
Taking a cue from Amazon, which last week announced that Kindle owners who subscribe to the digital version of The New York Times would be granted free passage through the paper's new online paywall, Barnes & Noble today announced that Nook owners will receive the same courtesy. All a Nook user has to do is subscribe to the daily e-edition and they'll gain unfettered access to NYTimes.com.
Early figures from The Association of American Publishers show that eBook sales have increased 115.8 percent for the first month of 2011 compared to January 2010, going from $32.4 million to $69.9 million. Downloadable Audio Books also jumped, though by a comparatively modest 8.8 percent ($6 million to $6.5 million).
The world's gone mobile folks, and don't worry about choosing sides between tablet PCs and eBook readers. Recent data suggests the two segments can coexist just fine, thank you very much. Not only that, but both sectors are growing at an explosive rate. Pretty exciting stuff considering one represents an emerging market (tablets) and the other is just now coming into its own with lighter, faster devices (eReaders).
Barnes and Noble this week reported its fiscal 2011 third quarter financial results, which as you might imagine is filled with numbers, but one stands out more than the rest. According to B&N, the Nook platform now accounts for a quarter of the eBook market in the U.S. Does it really? We're not sure.
At long last, Amazon has announced a Kindle app for the webOS platform, one that's specifically geared towards the HP TouchPad and its 9.7-inch screen (lots of info and pictures of this potentially awesome tablet here). Just as with other platforms, Kindle for webOS allows customers to "Buy Once, Read Everywhere" when making purchases from Amazon's Kindle Store. And of course there's Whispersync, so you can pick up reading on your TouchPad right where you left off from your smartphone or other Kindle-enabled device.
Amazon isn't ready to say exactly when it will push out its 3.1 update for the Kindle, but the company couldn't hold back revealing what's in store. Among the upcoming feature enhancements are real page numbers that match the page numbers in printed books. This will make it easier to reference and cite passages, as well as read alongside others, whether you're part of a book club or it's required reading for a class. It's a neat addition, but far from the only one.
Barnes & Noble insists the latest Nook Color firmware upgrade (version 1.1.0) is a minor update, but collectively it improves the eReader on multiple fronts. Here's what's included:
Improvements to Wi-Fi connectivity
Improvements to Home and Shop performance
Adds ability to Pinch to Zoom in browser
Enhance the reading experience for magazines and children's books
Adds a text banner to easily identify Nook kids Read to Me books
Also of note are "general bug fixes and performance improvements," of which B&N didn't elaborate. If you own a Nook Color, you can expect to receive the update via Wi-Fi over the next few days, or you can manually download the latest firmware from here (166MB download).
Amazon's "Kindle Singles" sounds like an online meeting place for like-minded romantics to hook up and talk about their favorite books, but it's not a Match.com clone. So what is it? Amazon describes it as a new kind of "well researched, well argued, and well illustrated" content that's typically anywhere from 5,000 to 30,000 words.
"The response to our announcement of Singles has been great," said Russ Grandinetti, Vice President of Kindle Content. "This first set of Singles was selected by our team of editors, and includes works by Rich Cohen, Darin Strauss, Ian Ayres, and the first-ever books published by TED."
The new Kindle Singles, which have now gone live, are available to both Kindle owners and app users. Each one is priced anywhere from $0.99 to $4.99. You'll find original reporting, essays, memoirs, and fiction in the first set of Kindle Singles, with Amazon planning to launch several more over time.