A new e-Book Player – The Nook from Barnes & Noble

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nook(Note from Julie – I know this is the 2nd Nook posting. My team is excited, what can I say 🙂 )

Barnes & Noble finally released details of their new e-book reader, the Nook. You can see all the details on their web site. Be sure to look at the video.

The reader incorporates an e-ink screen with an innovative color LCD touch screen at the bottom. This allows you to access various menus, and thumbnails of books on your reader as well as available in the store. It also functions as your keyboard when you want to add notes.

It provides a 3G connection (using AT&T) like the Kindle, but adds Wi-Fi as well. Not so coincidentally B&N provides free Wi-Fi in all their stores.

Unlike the Kindle, you can add a micro SD memory card, which allows you to expand the storage space on your reader.

They  provide a nice sided by side comparison to the Kindle on the site. Obviously it is written by the Nook folks, so interpret appropriately.

Another innovative feature is the ability to lend a book to someone else for a 14-day period. This addresses one of the issues I hear from folks resistant to diving into e-books.

This is an intriguing addition to the market. I am not sure it offers enough to draw me away from my investment in my Sony PRS-700 (I would really miss the full touch screen) but will likely take sales from both Sony and the Kindle. And even as a Sony Reader fan, competition is good. And I admit it, I will probably be finding my way to a B&N store to check it out first hand.

25 thoughts on “A new e-Book Player – The Nook from Barnes & Noble”

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  2. Yes, not to mention WiFi and 3G connectivity draining the battery. Hopefully those can both be turned off when you don’t need them.

    I will admit that I am very intrigued by this new reader, but don’t tell my Sony reader I said that!

  3. They mention that the color LCD times out. I am curious how easy it is to highlight a passage (or if it is even possible). I love being able to do that with my touch screen on the 700.

  4. Note that they indicate that only the LCD is a touchscreen – this makes me wonder if they’ll have an Apple-like “Zoom” feature on the LCD for use in navigating pages to highlight things or to select text… which itself is interesting, although the whole ‘no support or shipping outside the US’ has me a little irritated.

    Hell, even Best Buy’s selling a non-Sony reader in Canada now… and the International Kindle’s being shipped to the CONGO without wireless available, but somehow they can’t get it up to Canada, even just as hardware-only, and they’ve got agreements with both US and UK publishers…

  5. While the Nook is interesting I think everyone is missing the overall point. That is it’s the content not the reader that matters. Likewise the ease of acquiring and the cost of content are really going to drive the market, not the readers.

    While Apple dominates the MP3 player market (to the point that many people call any MP3 player an iPod) it does so primarily because of iTunes. It’s easy to get songs and load them onto your iPod.

    Amazon does a pretty good job with Kindle books. Let’s see how B&N does…that will make all the difference in whether the Nook gets the “hook” in the e-reader market.

  6. TC: One of the issues with the Kindle outside of the US is that it`s almost impossible to get content onto it legally, unless you`ve got an unprotected MOBI file or a Word file you want to mail to yourself (and pay Amazon fees for). B&N`s DRM system is pretty restrictive right now, which makes me wonder how they`re going to pull this `book lending`feature off, or if it`ll be half-hearted like the Zune`s music-sharing feature, which was supposed to be a `big advance`over the iPod, but which ended up as a `three play or three days`thing instead.

    The iPod`s main draw wasn`t iTunes (although that made legal music easily available) but that it could play MP3`s and iTunes took a lot of the hassle out of loading music onto the iPod. That, and the interface was very usable, unlike Creative`s products, which were out sooner (along with Sandisk`s Rio), but which had awful menus.

  7. I’m glad that it uses AT&T instead of Sprint for 3G connectivity. I don’t use connectivity with my Kindle because my coverage for Sprint is so poor. I wonder though if anyone will come out with a reader that uses Verizon? That would be great for me because Verizon is the only carrier in my town that actually has 3G implemented.

  8. The competition among content providers and ebook readers will greatly benefit the consumer. That the nook supports EPUB like the Sony (and PDFs to boot) means that it should be ready for the ebook format wars (a la Beta/VHS and HD/Blueray). However, it think the most significant technology advances would be (a) color screens for displaying graphics (even animations) and (b) the ability to “pin” handwritten notes (yes, stylus needed) to text locations. IMHO, with future standards defined and these two advances, the whole textbook market springs wide open and presents an environment that far surpasses the functionality and convenience of textbooks.

  9. On the topic of books, availability, and DRM: B&N recently bought Fictionwise, one of the largest dedicated ebook stores on the net. A large portion of the books offered there have no DRM at all, and they offer them in a good half-dozen (at least) formats.

    I don’t see it as very hard to tie the Nook into Fictionwise’s system, especially as some of the features B&N are discussing for their bookstore are already features of Fictionwise. (Being able to re-download your whole, or part of, library, for instance…)

    My guess is that the Nook’s bookstore will basically be a slightly re-branded version of Fictionwise.

  10. @Theo, I am sure I will like color when it comes, but I can’t say I am waiting for it. Most of the reading I did on dead-tree books was black and white. As far as handwritten notes, I do like that idea, and Sony has that in their Touch edition.

    @TC content IS king. That’s why I like another player, even if I won’t use it. Also looks like some of the B&N catalog will be available to purchase for folks like me with a Sony Reader.

  11. Take a look at the PlasticLogic Que – very thin… I’ve been tracking this one – it’s got quite a large screen and the technology behind the integrated circuit and logic board fabrication is pretty advanced. http://www.plasticlogic.com There’s also the iLiad / iRex reader from iRex (www.irextechnologies.com). I think screen real estate and resolution is what counts – if you build it, content will come.

  12. Since this is an Android-based ereader will it be able to have files? I have not seen anything about that and I think it would be a big plus over the Kindle. Beinga a professor, I am a heavy PDF reader and being able to sort them into relavant files is almost necessary to work with them.

  13. @Dennis: Not sure. That is one of the things I love about the Sony Reader. They have “collections”. It is essentially tagging. I can add a book to multiple collections, and they are viewable in that collection. Really useful when you have a lot of books. That is the feature a Kindle-using friend of mine most covets.

  14. I feel a TAD better about the Nook now knowing it has some ePub support, although the ‘lending a book’ feature makes me wonder if it uses Adobe’s ADEPT DRM system or if they’re going to create their own standard of ePub to fracture the market even more.

    Tetsubo: It’s the new thing for content providers; you don’t OWN anything you buy, just rent a license to use it. Currently the licenses are indefinite for that one device, but I expect that sort of thing to move to a subscription model as soon as the makers figure that we don’t have a choice as consumers and get away from the idea of anyone but them owning content… which in turn means that the producers of said content will no longer own them either, just licenses to offer their work to these companies to ‘sell’ to others.

    Dennis: They’ve only stated that they would have PDF support and have demonstrated a ‘cover-flow’ type capability. Whether they’ll have support for libraries/collections/folders the way some readers do (the tagging of files in the Sony eReader series through metadata, allowing the reader itself to build virtual folders) is a cool idea, although it needs to be extended to be REALLY useful (right now the same tag on three different types of media – SD, MS Pro Duo, and internal memory – will create three different collections, even if the tags are the same).

  15. Yeah, I’ve got that same feeling, along with its U.S. only release. If Sony could do both folders/tags/collections and sell their hardware internationally years before anyone else, what’s B&N’s excuse? They’re a big book chain, supposedly. Wouldn’t that provide leverage?

  16. Also, according to Engadget, the Nook’s ‘book lending’ feature is a one time EVER, in a book’s lifetime, loan for 14 days. Way to be innovative, guys.

  17. Yeah, the lending feature seems kind of lame. I’m wondering if the real reason it’s in there is as a trial run for future support of library checkout — if the software already allows temporary lending, it doesn’t seem much of a stretch to remove the limit on how many times a book can be lent. Of course the publishers will want more money for this, but even that is an improvement over the current situation of e-books in public libraries. Personally I’d love to be able to borrow e-books from the library… well, I can actually do that now, but they’re in some crappy Microsoft or Adobe format that only works on Windows PCs and not on any portable devices, and I like my e-ink.

  18. @Julie: As I said, “Way to innovate.” It’s like another version of the Zune ‘music sharing’ feature, but even MORE crippled, with the ‘one time ever’ loan.

    @Rob: The Overdrive system for libraries allows protected books in Adobe Digital Edition (PDF’s and ePubs) as well as MobiPocket PRC format to be checked out, which means PDA’s can read them, and any eBook readers which use Adobe’s ADE SDK (Sony eReader, the iRex readers) will support those ePubs as well. Those that support DRM-encoded PRC files can also use Overdrive’s service. There’s ALREADY support for a DRM-protected standard out there which isn’t Amazon’s rebranded MobiPocket format (AZW), but since most people don’t have eBook readers and many don’t use PDA’s…

  19. Here is one piece of information I hope helpful: I talked to the people at Barnes and Noble and confirmed that they we can use the B+N’s gift card toward the purchase of their Nook. Please also note that we cannot use the giftcards to buy eBooks.

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