Once Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, announced the Kindle, the publishing industry would never be the same again. This announcement took the industry by storm. The Kindle is not yet a mainstream gadget, but it’s on the right track. Its main hurdles are that it has no color and the price is too steep. If you add a polychromatic screen and an affordable price, it would be another invention similar to Gutemberg’s movable type printing.
Recently in was on the news that Barnes & Noble, which operates the nation’s largest chain of bookstores, joined the electronic books race with the Nook. The Nook, priced at $259, went on sale Tuesday afternoon at nook.com, at a price that matched the latest edition of the Kindle. The Nook will ship starting in late November.
B&N is trying to consolidate sales of e-books onto the Nook, which features a six-inch gray and white reading screen and a color touch screen control panel. In any of the chain’s 1,300 stores, consumers can download books on the Wi-Fi network. Outside the stores, consumers will access AT&T 3G network to download books.
One of the differentiating factors of the Nook is that customers can “lend” books to friends. But customers may lend out any given title only one time for a total of 14 days and they cannot read it on their own Nook while it is lent.
The Nook also has software that will detect when a consumer walks into a store so that it can push out coupons and other promotions like excerpts from forthcoming books or suggestions for new reading. While in stores, Nook owners will be able to read any e-book through streaming software.
Barnes & Noble is jumping into a crowded market dominated by the Kindle. The Reader from Sony is the next most popular such device, but there are several others in the works, including electronic readers from iRex and Plastic Logic.
It’s an interesting race to follow. B&N, Amazon and Sony are great contenders and they know how to move their pawns. I hope they realize $200 for a book reader is asking for too much. I have a gut feeling, that when the dust settles, we will see prices in the neighborhood of $100 for a full-featured electronic book reader. For sure it will not be possible this Christmas. Maybe next? Good Day.
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