Commentary

B&N To Find Its 'Nook' in E-Reader Market?

BNeReader

Barnes & Noble is expected to formally launch its own e-book reader Tuesday, featuring a color display and touchscreen and priced the same as Amazon.com's Kindle at $259, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

Details of the device dubbed the "Nook," were based on a full-page ad in the New York Times Book Review section dated Sunday, Oct. 25, which said the e-reader would allow its owners to Lend eBooks to friends.

Barnes & Noble joins an increasingly crowded field of competitors aiming to challenge Amazon's dominance of the nascent e-reader market, where the Kindle is estimated to have a commanding 60% share.

Yesterday, Spring Design introduced Alex, a Google Android-based e-reader offering full Web browsing capability and a dual-screen display, with a 6-inch electronic paper screen for reading along with a secondary color screen for accessing supporting Internet content.

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Other devices such as the Que from Plastic Logic Ltd., which will sell titles from Barnes & Noble's e-book store, are due to be released by next year. The key advantage Barnes & Noble has over the rest of the field is its nationwide chain of brick-and-mortar stores, giving consumers a hands-on experience of the reader before making a purchase decision.

While there had been speculation Barnes & Noble might try to undercut the Kindle's price, recently lowered to $259, the matching price tag along with the Nook's color display could also help the bookseller cut into Amazon's huge lead in the e-reader business.

Once the Nook hits store shelves, it will be interesting to see whether Amazon again drops the Kindle's price in a game of one-upsmanship with Barnes & Noble. Could either company's device hit what Apple executives refer to as the "magic price" of $199 for spurring wider sales of handheld gadgets? Much will depend on how well the Nook is received and the competitive threat perceived by Amazon in the lead up to the holiday season.

1 comment about "B&N To Find Its 'Nook' in E-Reader Market?".
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  1. Howie Goldfarb from Blue Star Strategic Marketing, October 20, 2009 at 4:57 p.m.

    You have no idea how much e-readers threaten B&N. We prefer books for portability. Same with print magazines and newspapers. Yes we now read off the web on our laptops, but we prefer something smaller, lighter, and easier to use. In terms of the environment it is best we stop needing trees for paper. Yet many of us love books, showing off our collection on shelving, and of course who could ever replace coffee table books?! But e-readers do threaten B&N's core business and they saw what happened with music and I Tunes. So an E-Reader gives B&N a double edged product. It can help them defend their turf for copy righted books as a source for consumers, and it gives them entry into other products and services.

    I have been promoting Tablets as the wave of the future for consumers. Small flexible readers/netsurfing/gameplaying devices we can toss in a backpack or handbag without a thought, and that we can take and use anywhere. This will truly give TV/Content Anywhere. No one wants small screens to watch TV or Video or surfing the net. Mobile web on phones exists because we don't have a choice yet. But we will soon. And phones will be niche devices for apps and a phone again. B&N see's the future and it wants to remain relevant. Good for them.

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