In a blog post on Monday, Barnes and Noble revealed it's getting ready to release its "biggest update" to the Nook since it was launched a year ago. The 1.5 update is said to "dramatically increase" page turn speed on both the Nook 3G and Wi-Fi, as well as add other performance enhancements and features to the mix.
"The 1.5 update includes improved search on the device, customized B&N Library organization and password protection," Barnes and Noble said. "It also includes the ability to sync across all Nook and all devices enabled with our free Nook apps, by syncing your last page read. If you forget your Nook at home, use the Nook app for iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, Android smartphone or PC to pick up where you left off. And, the next time you pick up your Nook, the Reading Now page will be updated and ready to go."
Barnes and Noble said it plans to kick out the update in late November via Wi-Fi or manual download at www.nook.com/support.
During an interview with CNN's Howard Kurtz, author Nicholas Negroponte, founder of the One Laptop per Child project, said that physical books are not long for this world.
"It will be in five years," Negroponte said in reference to the demise of physical books. "The physical medium cannot be distributed to enough people. When you go to Africa, half a million people want books ... you can't send the physical thing. When we ship with our laptop books to a village, we put 100 books on a laptop, but we also send 100 laptops in ... That village now has 10,000 books. This is an African village without electricity. So that's the future."
Negroponte clearly sees eBook readers and tablets supplanting physical books in the not-too-distant future, and it should be noted that Amazon recently said it sold more eBooks than paperback ones. At the same time, it's hard to imagine a world without physical books. Let's forget about the technological hurdles still to be worked out -- like the iPad's poor performance in sunlight and eBook readers requiring a light when reading in the dark -- there are some, and probably many, who will always prefer the look, feel, and even the smell of a paper bound book.
Do you see eBooks and tablets replacing traditional books in five years? How about in 10 years, or beyond? Hit the jump and sound off.
Pandigital Novel, whose existing line of eReaders are found in retailers nationwide such as Macy's, Kohl's, Kmart, JC Penny, Nordstroms, Walmart, and dozens more, added a new model to its lineup, the first of which to use ePaper technology.
The new Pandigital novel Personal eReader comes with a 6-inch electrophoretic ePaper display that's purportedly easy to read in bright sunlight and is non-reflective, just as an eBook reader should be. It boasts an 600x800 resolution and a touchscreen interface.
Like previous models, the new eReader comes integrated with the Barnes & Noble eBookstore. It has 2GB of internal memory, a built-in memory card reader to expand storage up to 32GB, Wi-Fi, a virtual keyboard, and a built-in mini USB port.
MSRP has been set to $200 "and is expected to sell at even lower everyday retail pricing and promotional pricing."
Most people would argue that the e-book market has nowhere to go but up, however analysts continue to be surprised by just how fast people are ditching ink for pixels. According to the Association of American Publishers e-book sales from January to August were a staggering $263 million, this compared to just $89.8 million during the same period last year. This threefold increase in sales certainly helps to validate the market, and it looks like the impact of having so many affordable e-book devices on the market is finally starting to kick in.
In January 2009 anyone wanting to read an e-book needed a device worth several hundred dollars, and had to worry about DRM protected content with no guarantee over future compatibility. Today just about anyone with a smartphone can tap into several different e-book stores, Kindles and Nooks have never been cheaper, and some little known company by the name of Apple launched the iPad.
E-book sales still only account for about 10 percent of books sold, but it still paints a clear picture for brick and mortar retailers. The trend is not your friend.
Here's a riddle for you. How is it that Amazon's Kindle, with pricing as low as $140, is owned by people who make more money than owners of Apple's iPad, which starts out at $500? Perhaps because Kindle owners are smarter than their iPad toting brethren, too. Oh snap!
We're not hating on iPad owners, we're just repeating the findings by market research firm Nielsen. According to Nielsen, 45 percent of Kindle owners make over $80,000 per year, compared to 39 percent of iPad owners and 37 percent of iPhone owners.
Going by the numbers, Kindle owners also tend to be more educated, with over a quarter (27 percent) having earned their Master's degrees or doctorates, Nielsen says.
So who's rushing out to buy all these iPads? Younger folk, who perhaps haven't had a chance to earn their higher degrees or make oodles of money. About 63 percent of iPad owners are under the age of 35 versus 47 percent of Kindle owners. And for what it's worth, iPad owners are more receptive to advertising than owners of other digital devices.
If you're going to survive in the eBook reader game, you have to adapt, and quickly. Kobo seems to understand this and has gone and refreshed its eBook reader to better compete with Amazon's Kindle and Barnes & Noble's Nook.
At a glance, you'd be hard pressed to tell which is the new and which is the old Kobo. They look the same, save for new color options (it's available in "metallic silver," "pearlized lilac," and "basic black"). So what's different? For starters, the second-gen Kobo comes with Wi-Fi, a welcome addition considering the original shipped without Wi-Fi or 3G.
There's also an improved processor pushing faster page turns (Kobo says up to 2.5X faster than the original) and navigation. The screen is supposedly better too, though there's no mention of it using the Pearl display featured in the Kindle and Sony Readers. And finally, Kobo says it improved battery life, which Kobo claims is good for up to 10,000 page turns on a single charge.
The new Kobo is available for preorder at $139 and ships in October. Those who preorder through Kobobooks.com are eligible for two free eBooks (Fear the Worst and When My World Was Very Small).
Electronic Arts has finally ported its Scrabble game over to the Kindle, which also happens to be the first premium app of any kind for Amazon's popular eBook Reader. At $4.99, it's exactly $4.99 more than Shuffled Row and Every Word, two addicting word games in their right, but neither of which offer the full Scrabble experience.
The controls are simple -- just use the directional pad to move around, choose a direction, and type out your word. If you're stuck, or a weenie, you can use the Best Word feature to cheat your way to the highest scoring word possible with your combination of letters.
Unfortunately, Electronic Arts didn't tap into the Kindle's Wi-Fi or 3G functionality, and as such, it's impossible to play against friends remotely. There is a Pass N' Play option, though, which is exactly like it sounds.
We received word today that Best Buy is expanding its in-store eReader selection to include Amazon's Kindle. This will make Best Buy the only brick and mortar retailer to sell all three major eBook readers, which also includes B&N's Nook and Sony's Reader family.
"There's no question that eReaders have found their rightful place in today's digital lifestyle," said Chris Homeister, senior vice president and general manager of Home Entertainment for Best Buy. "Our goal is to help people choose the device that's right for them by providing the broadest selection of popular eReaders of any retailer, in one convenient place that enables people to easily see, touch, try, and buy."
The Kindles will show up in stores sometime this fall with pricing the same as through Amazon: the new Kindle with built-in Wi-Fi will sell for $140 and the Kindle 3G will go for $190. Later in the season, the Kindle DX will join the fray.
Give credit to Amazon and Barnes & Noble for sparking an eBook reader price war, or give a shout out to the emerging tablet market, which undoubtedly has played a role in the recent market adjustment. Either way, it's you, Joe Consumer, who is benefiting from price cuts across the board.
The latest to join the lower-cost eReader fray is Borders. Starting today, both the Kobo eReader and Aluratek Libre eBook Pro are available for $130 and $100, respectively. That's not bad considering neither one was priced particularly high to begin with -- the Kobo previously sold for $150, while the Aluratek device was going for $120.
"This is a significant inflection point in terms of market penetration of the Kobo and Aluratek eReaders," said Mike Edwards, CEO of Borders. "We envision this price reduction, enabling the purchase of these devices a a second eReader in a household, as a more affordable option -- the list goes on."
Borders is hitting the eReader market pretty hard. In addition to the newly priced Kobo and Aluratek, the bookstore will also carry Velocity Micro's upcoming Android-based Cruz Reader for $200, as well as the Cruz Tablet ($300), both of which are currently available for preorder.
Following the launch of Apple's iPad, there was some question as to the future of dedicated eBook readers. After all, the iPad does a serviceable job of flipping through eBooks, and with a spate of competing tablets en route to a retail store near you by the end of 2010, where does that leave standalone readers?
In a very good position, according to Scott Liu, chairman of EPD (electrophoretic display) maker E-Ink Holding. As Liu sees it, eBook reader shipments are in position to be two to three times higher in the second half of 2010 thanks to recent price cuts by the industry's heavy hitting trio.
Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Sony all recently slashed eBook reader pricing, and with some of the newer models checking in at just $140, dedicated readers are suddenly a lot more compelling. This isn't just a theory, either. As Liu points out, shipments for Amazon's 9.7-inch Kindle DX increased threefold when Amazon cut the price from $489 to $379.
According to Liu, demand for Amazon's newest Kindle models has been strong, forcing E-Ink to ramp up its production efforts to keep up with client's orders. And if the market continues this way, Liu sees reader pricing dropping to sub-$100 levels in the not-too-distant future.