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.
What’s interesting about the shift from an industrial age to a technological age is that we keep inventing new media: movies, records, radio, television, the internet, and now ebooks—and one of the things that’s most interesting about the invention of a new medium is watching it reinvent itself as it penetrates the culture.
In the study of mass communication, we see that a new medium always starts out building on the formats of preexisting media. A couple quick examples:
As movies grew up, especially in the first decade of sound, they went to novels and broadway plays for source material. (They still do. In fact, now they go to comics and TV shows too for ‘inspiration.’)
As radio spread, radio stations went to records and concerts for material to broadcast. Radio networks also went to vaudeville for performers and made stars out of Jack Benny, Fred Allen, George Burns, and others. (This is what killed vaudeville. You could stay home and listen to live performances.) Eventually radio started doing drama, mysteries, soap operas, game shows, and sitcoms.
When television began, it modeled itself after radio.
For more about what technology's history says about ebooks' future, read on!
It looks like Microsoft is taking the kid gloves off, and putting on the 'sue everyone gloves'. The software giant has filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Seattle and the International Trade Commission alleging that Android, as implemented by Barnes and Noble in the Nook, infringes on Microsoft-held patents. This isn't Redmond's first volley against the little green robot, but it might be the start of a new trend.
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.
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).
Barnes & Noble on Monday credited its recently launched Nook Color for driving "robust Nook Newstand sales" to the tune of more than 650,000 digital periodical subscriptions and single copy sales in just two months.
"We are excited to offer a wide array of top periodicals and have seen explosive growth in Nook Newsstand sales since the launch of Nook Color. Our customers clearly enjoy reading digital versions of their favorite magazines in rich, beautiful color, along with their daily newspapers, with the convenience of subscription or single issue purchases," said Jonathan Shar, Vice President and General Manager of digital newsstand at Barnes & Noble. "We've had overwhelmingly positive feedback from our content partners as well and will continue to build upon our vast collection of periodicals and incorporate even more interactivity for Nook Color customers this year."
Barnes & Noble added a dozen new digital periodicals to its growing catalog last month, which now features over 120 full-color magazines and newspaper brands, the company said.
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.
It had to happen eventually, the irony is just too delicious. The intrepid Android hacking community had managed to get the Amazon Kindle app running on a rooted Nook Color. Now user that don't mind a bit of legwork can get books from Amazon's expansive store on this device intended only for Barnes and Noble content.
Interested users will need to grab one of the Nook Autorooter images, and an image writer program to get the necessary file onto the SD card. This process loads Google apps on the device including Gmail, YouTube, and the Market. The Kindle app can be pulled right from the Market and used on the Nook. Modders are reporting the Nook Color is proving to be an excellent Android hacking environment.
We're excited to see what the community comes up with for the Nook Color next. Maybe some Gingerbread? Given the progress being made turning the Nook Color into a real tablet, are you more likely to buy one?
Barnes and Noble had hoped to put all this unpleasant legal wrangling behind them, but their effort to have the case brought by Spring Design dismissed has been rejected. The judge said in his ruling that there was insufficient information to assure Barnes and Noble did not violate California law. Spring Design will be allowed to pursue their claim against the bookseller turned ebook seller for misappropriating trade secrets and breach of contract.
Spring design, maker of the Alex e-reader, claims to have shared its e-reader design with Barnes and Noble in hopes the retailer would enter a partnership to sell ebooks. Instead, Barnes and Noble made and launched the Nook with a similar two screen design. Spring Design sued shortly thereafter. The Ales did eventually launch in April of 2010 with a $299 price tag. The high price and lack of a strong content tie in has made for a tough sell. Do you think Barnes and Noble borrowed a little too heavily from the Alex?
Google’s ebook store has finally stepped out of the realm of rumors and entered the real world. Matter-of-factly called the Google eBookstore, it is well stocked and supports a wide variety of devices, including PCs, smartphones, tablets and e-readers. According to Google, the store boasts the largest ebooks collection in the world with more than three million titles.
Since its Google’s ebook store, books are stored in the cloud and can be bought and read in it as well. Offline reading on Android and iOS devices is supported through native apps. As for e-readers, support is restricted to only those devices that are compatible with the Adobe eBook platform. While Amazon’s Kindle is not supported, Barnes & Noble Nook and Sony Reader are probably the most notable names on the list of supported devices.