Now we can go ahead and cut the projected lifespan of B&N in half. News came out this weekend that Barnes & Noble wants to “move away” from its Nook business because the business is still not profitable. You know what’s even less profitable? A retail bookstore chain with no ebook strategy. Isn’t that right, Borders? …. Borders? Hello?
The moral of this story for readers is simple: Do not buy a Nook. It is doomed, and there’s very little guarantee that your content will be safe (or your hardware will be tech-supported) after B&N dies.
For industry watchers, there’s still a question: When, exactly, will B&N, specifically the Nook division, kick the bucket? I was estimating 2020 before, but this greatly speeds up the clock. My new guess is 2015. I wouldn’t be so surprised if it lasted until 2016, but I don’t think it’ll last any longer than that.
Lendle, as the name implies, was a site that helped Kindle users utilize the lending feature included in some Kindle ebooks. They don’t pirate books or sell lending credits or increase the amount you can lend, they’re only a sophisticated bulletin board to match up borrowers and lenders.
When I first read that they’d been shut down, I was furious—but really, it makes a lot of sense. Amazon has never thought much of lending ebooks—it’s never allowed library ebooks on the Kindle, and when Barnes & Noble first announced the Nook’s LendMe feature, Bezos denounced it for being “extremely limited.” When Amazon caved and copied that exact lending feature, their execution of it was both obnoxious to use and riddled with bugs.
So, obviously Bezos wants credit for reader-friendly features like ebook lending, but doesn’t want customers to actually use those features, no matter how “limited” he claims they are. File this one under: another reason not to buy a Kindle.
The good news: you can still find people to borrow and share ebooks with, at such sites as BooksForNooks.com, K BooksForMyEreader.com (formerly BooksForMyKindle, but they probably got cease-and-desisted), and eBookFling.com. At eBookFling, you can actually buy a lending credit (reportedly for $1.99), so you don’t have to own a single Kindle book to borrow them. Personally, I would’ve shut that site down and left Lendle up, but far be it from me to tell Bezos how to polish his head.
The home screen features a desktop with resizable icons for books and periodicals, and a "Daily Shelf" row at the bottom where new content automatically appears.
The Nook Color is Barnes & Noble’s new full-color LCD ereader, retailing now for $250 (more specs below). Basically, it has phenomenal potential, but it’s unfinished, which means we don’t yet know exactly how good it will be. 90% of the problems I have with the device could be solved with firmware fixes—I’m guessing B&N will roll out a major new firmware update in January, with the launch of the Nook Color app store. But I’m also guessing they won’t be able to fix every one of these problems.
Right now, this is still a very appealing ereader—and it is an ereader. If you’re looking for a tablet computer, get an iPad. But if you want a device for reading, and you want to read books, newspapers, and magazines, the Nook Color is well worth the money, and it’s only going to get better.
Barnes & Noble unveiled the Nook Color yesterday. Here are some specs, thoughts, observations, and links.
Specs and overview: The Nook Color is a 7-inch color touchscreen Android-powered ereader, retailing at $250. It will ship Nov. 19, and it’ll be in stores soon after that. It has WiFi, but no 3G, and an LCD screen instead of Pixel Qi or Mirasol (which would give it better battery life) because of price considerations and performance.
It’s difficult to get good hard spec numbers right now, especially processor speed and memory capacity, but it has micro SD expandable storage, and it comes with an 8 Gb card (16 Gb cards run about $30). It supports Adobe ePub and “boasts” an 8-hour battery life with WiFi off (I’d say you shouldn’t hope for more than 3-4 hours with WiFi on). Battery life is its weak point, without a doubt.
That said, there’s a whole lot to like here. Despite tech blogs keying on the word “tablet,” this is not a tablet computer, it’s a (possibly excellent) color LCD ereader. Real tablet computers of decent production value are very expensive, like the iPad starting at $500, and the new Samsung Galaxy Tab starting at $600. Anything much cheaper than the Nook Color, like the Pandigital Novel at $180, is too crappy to use. So do not expect the best Android tablet out there, expect a great magazine/newspaper reader, with a few perks.
Weird/cool bonus features:You can now take your Nook to a Barnes & Noble store, and read any part of any ebook in their catalog, for up to one hour a day, at which point, you presumably have to get up and go find the paper copy. With the Nook Color, you can also share passages from books via Facebook or Twitter, and lend (or evidently request to borrow) ebooks from friends.
You can also still get library ebooks, and read your ebooks on your phone or desktop via Nook apps available on most platforms (the Nook apps are quite nice, much better than Kobo in my opinion). However, I have little hope for the dedicated, curated Nook Color app store. Nook apps will not challenge iPad apps anytime soon.
Thoughts on content: One of the things I learned this summer after publishing our fiction anthology is that Barnes & Noble does its content right. I’ve been very skeptical of their ereader endeavors in the past, but they are clearly committed to ebooks, and committed to providing content. The same simply cannot be said of Apple and its lackluster ebookstore. If the hardware holds up, the Nook Color will be outstanding for readers.
The bottom line: If you want a tablet to play games, watch movies, email, Twitter, etc., get an iPad. But if you want a tablet primarily to read—especially to read magazines, newspapers, kids’ books, etc.—then the Nook Color is your clear front-runner. I don’t hold out any hope for a competitive or even decent app store, but the content will be there, in a way it’s not on the iPad.
Feel free to wait until you can lay your hands on one in stores to test its interface; that and its battery are its obvious potential weak spots in the early running. Basically, for the right user, this device makes a whole lot of sense.
Things I’m unsure of: How well will its interactivity work? Will it be able to highlight and note-take in a useful manner, as no E-Ink reader currently can? Will my grandmother be able to use it? If so, the Nook Color could be even better. I initially assumed the Nook Color would have lots of comic books, but haven’t seen confirmation; if no, that seems like a big oversight.
Basically, nobody wants to shut up about the new Apple tablet (supposedlydubbed the iPad–consider it nominated for this week’s dumbest new ereader name award). It’s slated to be revealed today, so I’m not going to bother parsing out the rumors. This one bit about pricing strategies and the coming battle between Apple and Amazon is interesting though. Not sure where B&N is in all this. I guess they probably shouldn’t have f-ed up the Nook launch so badly. Perhaps they are waiting for a boost from Apple? If you’re foolishish enough to get a first generation iPad (thus ignoring Apple’s track record of vastly superior second gen devices), here are some other fun uses for it.
It’s kinda old news, but apparently colleges are being sued for using ereaders in classrooms because blind students can’t use them. How using a braille edition to supplement a Kindle (which reads books–poorly–out loud) is less fair than if the other students use deadtree, I do not understand. It won’t help the blind, but if you’ve no backlight on your ereader and can’t figure out how to turn on your lamp, try this dongle. This Boogie Board doodle toy isn’t an ereader (and probably isn’t much use to anyone not a basketball coach) but it does seem pretty cool, and uses no power at that.
We’ll be posting on Friday about some of the many changes we have planned for our second year. There’s a lot of good stuff planned, and we’ll be getting bigger and better as time goes on. Check back Friday for that.
Before we get to the links, a little site promotion: I was Christmas shopping for books today and I wanted to get a mystery novel for my grandfather. Where did I look? Why the C4 Book Reviews section of course. Give it another peek, maybe you’ll find some gift ideas of your own. Also, check out our Best Books of 2009 feature, which will be updated Mondays through January. Well, enough of that…
I walked by a SonyStyle store the other day, and I have to admit they’re doing a good job of pushing their Readers in brick and mortar stores (I’ve also seen them in Best Buy stores amongst others as well). And while they have a decent selection of models, I’m not sure these themed Readers are quite necessary. In other ereader news, the Aiptek Storybook inColor is pretty neato looking, though I still don’t think an LCD ereader is ever going to really fly. The Aluratek Libre has a nice pricetag, but the same LCD concern still applies. (Before you poo-poo me, electronic ink–in our opinion–really does make a huge difference. Here are my initial impressions of the tech from last spring.)
The COOL-ER is getting a hardware upgrade, making it marginally cool-er in the eyes of the other wallflower ereaders. And there’s lots of Applet Tablet rumors floating around this week, but I’m not going to link to any, beacause I’m sick of them. We’ll discuss an Apple Tablet and its secondary ereader abilites only when (if) it actually gets announced. Here’s a review of the Sungale Cyberus, which also doesn’t look all that impressive.
So after taking last Wednesday off for haiku, we’re back with two weeks’ worth of scuttlebutt:
Creative (maker of the iPod’s poor, homely, and ignored cousin) threw their hat into the ring with the Zii Mediabook. I’d like to go on the record as saying this is an even dumber name than Nook or Alex. Speaking of, the makers of the Alex have sued Barnes & Noble over the Nook’s dual screen design. Also with dual screens, I can’t decide if the Entourage Edge looks cool or crappy, but I’m leaning toward crappy.
The inexpensive Jetbook Lite is available now (thanks to reader Ben for the heads up). And on the horizon, ASUS wants in the ereader game after all their netbook success. And so does Bridgestone, after all their tire success? It’s bendy, which is cool. Apparently there are some snazzy new E-Ink processor chips in the pipeline, so hopefully we’ll seem even more creative new tech soon. Lots of ereader hype this selling season, might we finally be at the verge of the Great eReader Adoption?
And, finally, if you are the Russian spammers overloading our comments, please stop. It’s really annoying. (We’ve been scrambling to get the spam cleaned up, so we apologize to any commenters if your post gets deleted by mistake. Feel free to email us if this happens to you and we’ll get your post reactivated.)
I’m a book reader. I read some news on the web, the odd magazine, but mostly I’m a book reader. As such, the Kindle’s Whispernet has never really kicked me in the envy glands. I don’t need daily content updates, so I only connect my Sony Reader to my computer about once a month to stock up on ebooks.
For me, the Sony’s ability to borrow library ebooks far outweighs the Kindle’s wireless connectivity. (Almost every other non-Amazon ereader can borrow library ebooks, too. Check out our ereader comparison for more quick details on ereaders.)
But there’s one Kindle feature that I have envied: first chapter previews. There are many ebooks I would never have bought or borrowed if I could’ve read the first chapter beforehand, but until now there have only been a few feeble attempts from non-Amazon ebookstores to duplicate this feature.
The Barnes & Noble eReader, though, didn’t copy it—they just stole it, and that might have been the best decision their eReader team made.