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.
Today's technology has us taking for granted what would seem like black magic back in the early days. Punch a search query into Google, for example, and you're presented with thousands, even millions of results in less time than it takes to sneeze. Surely some sinister force must be at work! More recently, Amazon upgraded its Kindle platform to include real page numbers, so if your book club references a murder scene on page 187, you can hop right to it on your Kindle just as if you were holding a dead tree version. That's nifty, but how did Amazon go about the mammoth task of updating its massive selection of ebooks with real page numbers? Find out after the break.
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).
It's a game of one-upmanship between Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Earlier this week, Amazon announced its third-generation Kindle is now the best selling product in the company's history, and not to be outdone, Barnes & Noble is saying the same thing about its Nook eBook reader.
"With millions of Nook eReading devices sold, the line has become [Barnes and Noble's] biggest bestseller ever in its nearly 40-year history," B&N said. "The new NookColor Reader's Tablet, introduced just eight weeks before Christmas, is the company's number one selling gift of the holiday season."
In addition, B&N said that even as its physical book business continues to grow, it now sells more digital copies than it does of the dead tree versions. On Christmas day alone, B&N logged more than 1 million eBook sales.
Amazon hates to get into specific numbers for Kindle sales, but isn't shy of getting all braggadocios when new records are reached. And according to Amazon, the third-generation Kindle is now the best selling product in the company's history, a distinction previously held by the seventh book in the Harry Potter series.
"We're grateful to the millions of customers who have made the all-new Kindle the bestselling product in the history of Amazon -- surpassing Harry Potter 7," said Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com founder and CEO. "We're seeing that many of the people who are buying Kindles also own an LCD tablet. Customers report using their LCD tablets for games, movies, and web browsing and their Kindles for reading sessions. They report preferring Kindle for reading because it weighs less, eliminates battery anxiety with its month-long battery life, and has the advanced paper-like Pearl e-ink display that reduces eye-strain, doesn't interfere with sleep patterns at bedtime, and works outside in direct sunlight, an important consideration especially for vacation reading."
Bezos also pointed out the obvious in acknowledging that the Kindle's $139 cost of entry was a "key factor," and we agree. While tablets might ultimately pose a threat in the eReader space, up until recently, the Kindle''s only competition in the tablet space has been Apple's $500+ iPad.
Even though Amazon didn't disclose numbers specific to its third-gen Kindle, the e-tailer did said that on its peak day -- November 29, 2010 -- the company sold more than 13.7 million items worldwide, or 158 items each second. That figure includes the Kindle and everything else Amazon sells.