Barnes & Noble, one of the largest book sellers in the world, this week announced its own e-book reader. The forthcoming Nook electronic book reader has a number of clear advantages over existing devices both in terms of features and in terms of services. But while it is relatively uneasy for technology companies to catch up in terms of features, in terms of services Barnes & Noble’s device may remain unachievable.
Barnes & Noble Nook e-book reader is based on Google Android platform, measures by 7.7” x 4.9” x 0.5” (196.2mm x 126mm x 12.8mm), weighs 11.2 ounces (317 grams), features black and white 6” e-ink Vizplex screen with undisclosed resolution, 3.5” colour touch-screen for navigation, 2GB of onboard flash memory for books or news-papers (microSD port also available) and up to 10 days of battery life with wireless connectivity off. The device features AT&T’s wireless EDGE/HSDPA/UMTS mobile broadband connectivity as well as Wi-Fi support to download the content everywhere. The Nook will be able to playback MP3 music, display photographs using its black and white screen.
The main advantages that Barnes & Noble’s Nook offers compared to other e-book readers is access to more than a million titles, 500 thousand free e-books, exclusive content and unique ability to lend books to friends (who use Nook services on platforms like Apple iPhone/iPod, select Blackberry or Motorola phones, PC, etc) for up to 14 days, something that other e-book devices lack completely.
“We asked our customers what they wanted in an e-book reader, and specifically designed nook to be the most full-featured, fun, stylish and easy-to-use e-book reader on the market. With our nationwide footprint, Barnes & Noble customers can see, touch and hold nook. Our 40 000 booksellers are ready to help customers discover how easy it is to download and read e-books on Nook, and what a pleasure it is to have access to their favorite e-books, magazines and newspapers anytime and anywhere,” said William J. Lynch, president of Barnes & Noble.
Unfortunately, Nook still has two major disadvantages of Amazon Kindle: it works and is available only in the U.S. (there is an international version of Kindle 2 is available in over 100 countries) and it costs $259, quite a lot for a device that does not feature truly state-of-the-art technologies.
With Barnes & Noble entering the e-book market the competition will intensify automatically. It remains to be seen whether the competition will drive down the pricing of e-book readers as well as electronic books, but it looks like the market does have a huge potential.