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Nook vs. Kindle: The e-Reader Battle Joined

Posted by Sheila Shayon on August 3, 2010 11:00 AM

When it comes to e-readers, Kindle is the Kleenex, the Band Aid, the Coke of the category – the name synonymous with the entire space …until now. The Nook is out of its cranny and aggressively competing with Kindle by leveraging a very retro advantage it holds over Amazon: bricks-and-mortar.

Barnes & Noble is building 1,000-square-foot boutiques in all of its 720 stores to promote and sell its e-reader. The Nook boutiques (Nooks?) will feature demo tables, sample devices, and employees ready and willing to offer tutelage and advice.

It’s a big advantage – “crucial” says Barnes & Noble: “I think that’s everything. American consumers want to try and hold gadgets before they purchase them,” said William Lynch, CEO Barnes & Noble.

Amazon and Barnes & Noble are in fierce competition for e-reader dominance. The price of the Nook was just lowered from $259 to $199, with Kindle following suit – reduced from $259 to $189.  As of mid-June 600,000 units of the Nooks – available since October 2009 – have been sold. Two million Kindles – on sale since December 2007 – have been purchased, according to Codex Group.

Industry experts predict that the 2010 holiday season will be a kind of coming-out party for  e-readers. And both the retailer and the e-tailer are girding their loins by adding new features hoping to distinguish their brand in the fray.

The latest additions to the Nook 1.3 include: “Read in Store” any book from the B&N ebook catalog daily for up to an hour for free (slower readers can return the next day);  dual internet connectivity (3G and WiFi); lend a friend an ebook for up to two weeks; dip into OverDrive-powered local libraries; open ecosystem that supports Adobe DRM and non-DRM books; browse books by cover; customizable screen saver and color touchscreen with improved contrast; more font choices; and a user-accessible battery.

Kindle Version 2.5 new features include: Folders for organizing books and documents; PDF that supports panning and zooming; password protection against unauthorized book purchases; sharper and larger font choices; highlight and share book passages on Facebook and Twitter direct from your device; identify most highlighted book passages by all readers of a book; half a-million ebook titles available; best book prices and largest choice of magazines and newspapers;  a Read-to-Me feature and support for MP3 and Audible books; battery life of 14 days with wireless off; works in the US and in International locations. 
Overall, the race is tight and Amazon’s Kindle may cede its category dominance, edged out by Nook’s bricks and mortar? Kindle is for sale on Amazon.com, in Target and HMSHost stores. And then there’s the new kid on the digital book block - iPad.

As price and features coalesce amongst all three the question arises: will adding a physical presence to a digital device sell-in make the winning difference?


Sze United States says:

This helped a little with my decision on purchasing a good e-Reader but why wasn't the new $139 Kindle Wifi-reviewed?   The controls are completely different from the one reviewed in this post.

August 3, 2010 11:55 AM #

S. Shayon says:

Here's a link with information on the $139 WiFi Kindle:
S. Shayon

August 3, 2010 02:23 PM #

Elene Parker United States says:

Something else on the Kindle that I think is worth a glance: www.pressdisplay.com/.../showlink.aspx%2bg%3d%3d

Anyway, hope this helps Smile

August 3, 2010 05:13 PM #

Ryan Morris United States says:

This was a really strange article. It wasn't a review, but also didn't get into the branding of the devices. It threw out a bunch of feature-set lists like a review, but the crux seemed to be the question of whether B&N's brick-and-mortar will ultimately trump Amazon's head-start and first-to-market position (Whether that is an advantage or not is debatable. See Hydroxy-O's.)

There are a ton of key features that were not even mentioned here, so if you are looking for a review, defintely Google for reviews. I personally love my Nook for the larger library, acccess to free e-books and to book subcription services (think Netflix for books). My father loves his KindleDX because it is a better format for newspapers, which he likes to read while traveling. Unfortunately Kindle gets Ft Worth Star Telegram (which he does not really like) as opposed to the Nook which can get the Dallas Morning News (his preference). Both devices are great, but they are not a commodity. The feature sets and content offered really do distinguish them, and can make the difference in purchase decisions if promoted properly.

The thing I think B&N is missing out on is the marketing of the device as an Andriod OS device, and the open nature of the OS. Running a version of Google's open-source OS, it has the ability to really open up for more functionality. This is most evident now in the number of formats of e-books supported, and the volume of free e-books this opens up. Amazon likes to say that their e-books are cheaper, which on a book-to-book comparison may be true. However, half of the books on my Nook were free...

B&N may also be relying too much on their stores for sales. I think Amazon's TV campaign is really catchy, simple, and generally appealing. It makes it seem like a Kindle is hassel-free way to enjoy a whole library of books, which is exactly their point. B&N may need more than in-store sales staff (especially since a significant part of the appeal of these devices is access to books for those who live far from a decent bookstore) to combat the ubiquity of the Kindle brand.

August 4, 2010 02:39 PM #

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