As expected, Barnes & Noble announced the Nook Color today at their event in New York. The device ditches the eInk monochrome screen used by the Amazon Kindle and regular Nook. In its place is a 7-inch IPS color touchscreen. The resolution is a very reasonable 1024x600, and it will come with a special anti-glare film. There is also Wi-Fi, a microSD card slot, and no 3G right now.
This device is utilizing more elements of the underlying Android system, but it is thoroughly skinned. It is clear this is a reader first and foremost. But users will have access to music, the browser, social networking, and a few select apps like Pandora. Since this is significantly different from the stock Android platform, developers looking to get their apps on the platform will have to use a Barnes & Noble supplied SDK.
The Nook Color will sell for $249 when it comes out on November 19. The bookseller is looking to get people reading magazines and newspaper on this device, in addition to regular books. Barnes & Noble may be calling this part tablet and part reader, but they may find that it isn't good enough at being either. Do you think this device is going to succeed?
Barnes and Noble is slated to hold a Nook event on October 26, and we're hearing rumblings of a major hardware revision. The new Nook, according to a source that spoke with Cnet, may have a full color touchscreen in place of the monochrome eInk display it currently uses. The screen would be 7-inches, and the device would retail for $249. The Nook would continue to be based on Android as well.
The Amazon Kindle ereader has seemingly stuck to the eInk route for the time being, and Barnes and Noble may be looking to blow past them technologically. Missing is any information on what type of screen technology the 'Nook Color" would be using. A standard LCD, like the iPad uses, comes with its own set of drawbacks. The color eInk-like Mirasol and PixelQi dispalys have been demoed, but no one has foreseen their use in ereaders so soon.
With Amazon looking to sell you a Kindle for $140, will consumers pay more for a color screen? The $500 price point of the iPad also creates an interesting barrier. Those willing to deal with LCD screens for reading might be willing to pay more for the iPad's increased functionality. What's your prediction for the announcement?
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.
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.
Barnes & Noble this week announced it has gone back to the drawing board and come up with a completely new, next-generation Nook app for the iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, and PC. This latest release adds a handful of customer requested features, like in-app content rating.
"We are committed to offering and easy-to-use, comfortable, and fun Nook eReading experience across multiple platforms. Nook for iPhone users can shop Barnes & Noble's vast catalog of eBooks, while enjoying new, customization features and sharing their favorite eBooks with friends for free," said Douglas Gottlieb, Vice President, Digital Products for B&N.
Many of the improvements are aimed at iPhone users, who can now "create completely personalized or utilize professionally designed themes," optimize content for daytime or nighttime reading, utilize a one-tap option, and have the ability to preview changes before saving them.
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Mega book chain Barnes and Noble this week announced NOOKstudy, a free online reading and study platform for college students. Described as the "ultimate study tool," NOOKstudy allows students to manage their eBooks, class materials, and notes in a single place.
"NOOKstudy is a big win for college students: it will not only lighten their backpacks, but also help them save money and study more efficiently," said Tracey Weber, EVP, Textbooks and Digital Eduction, Barnes & Noble.com. "NOOKstudy is a revolutionary approach to learning that offers students access to the reading and organizational tools they need, across all content sources and formats, enabling them to study smarter, not harder."
B&N said the NOOKstudy platform represents "extensive feedback" from students, professors, and administrators alike. With NOOKstudy, students are able to view multiple books and sources at the same time while also accessing complementary content, like toolsets, reference materials, and so forth.
The Kindle, like the Nook, has free 3G wireless data and an eInk screen. Barnes and Noble also announced a cheaper Wi-Fi only model, but it sells for $150. That's only $40 less than the new Kindle price point. The Nook's new pricing tiers are clearly predicated on the Kindle being stuck at $260.
Overall, this is great for consumers. The eReader price war has finally begun, and not a moment too soon. We've always felt that these devices were far too expensive for what they do. Does the new Kindle price change the equation for you?
If you were waiting for the ebook reader wars to get a lot more interesting, it just happened. Throwing a one-two combo punch at Amazon, Barnes and Noble today cut the cost of its 3G Nook ereader (KERPOW!) and also introduced a new Wi-Fi only model at a comparatively bargain basement price (BAM!).
The 3G Nook now sells for $199, which according to B&N makes it the market's first under-$200 dedicated full-featured ebook reader offering both free 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity options in one. And while B&N can spin this one however it see fits, at less than two Benjamins, and $60 less than Amazon's Kindle, the price point speaks for itself.
And what about the new Wi-Fi only model? That will only set you back $149 and includes all the same features as the regular Nook, sans 3G. At that price point, B&N is likely to attract users who previously might have been on the fence because of the well documented speed issues. Equally important, these new prices put B&N in a much better position to compete with Apple's iPad and every other tablet that's due to come out.
Bookseller Barnes and Noble is starting to hand out free coffee to encourage the use of their e-book software. For the duration of the limited time promotion, customers need only show a cafe server an open e-book running the Barnes and Noble software. This will net the user one free tall coffee. Devices qualifying for the promotion are iPhones, iPads, iPod Touches, Blackberry phones, the HTC HD2, Windows/Mac computers, and of course the Nook.
Barnes and Noble is in a race to catch up to the Kindle's lead in the e-book space, but the iPad may have them both beaten. If the tide turns against the monochrome eInk screens, these multiplatform apps are the bookseller's best hope.
Barnes and Noble has also been offering access to special content on the Nook that can be downloaded while in the store. They also allow Nook owners to read selected books for free, one hour per day, while in the store. Do these sorts of promotions make you want to live in the Barnes and Noble e-book ecosystem?