Retail distribution may tip e-reader race; Barnes & Noble rolls out Nook

Retail distribution may tip e-reader race; Barnes & Noble rolls out Nook

Summary: Barnes & Noble unveiled its Nook e-reader, the latest in a line of alleged Kindle killers, and much of the chatter revolves around open standards, touch features, a little color and competition. The reality: Retail distribution may be much more important to winning the e-reader race.

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TOPICS: Hardware
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Barnes & Noble unveiled its Nook e-reader, the latest in a line of alleged Kindle killers, and much of the chatter revolves around open standards, touch features, a little color and competition. The reality: Retail distribution may be much more important to winning the e-reader race.

Barnes & Noble's Nook will run $259, have 3G and Wi-Fi access and be open. The Nook also runs on Android and has a color screen (Techmeme). But here are some overlooked elements in the Barnes & Noble statement:

  • The Nook will have "stunning storefront displays" aimed in stores near universities.
  • Barnes & Noble has 40,000 booksellers.
  • Customers will be able to browse e-books for free in stores.

Why does this matter? If e-readers (all resources) are going to hit the masses consumers are going to need to pick the devices up and play with them. That's something you can't do with the Kindle, which has apparently lured Amazon's best customers.

Gallery: Gallery: E-book e-reader list is growing

Sony, with its distribution deals with Target and other big retailers, is pursuing a similar strategy. The game plan for Barnes & Noble and Sony is to surround Amazon---with bricks and mortar distribution points.

Also: B&N's Nook e-reader: Weirdly unrevolutionary

Topic: Hardware

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5 comments
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  • Don't forget about the iPhone

    The Kindle app for the iPhone is awesome. Thats
    another advantage for Amazon. With over 20 million
    iPhones sold, why worry about brick and mortar
    distribution? Also the new Kindle international
    reader is going to rock the world.

    The e-reader race has already been tipped and it
    isn't because of retail distribution.
    zoopr
    • Forget about the iphone

      the iphone app is going to be pretty much irrelevant in this battle. Sure it may be helpful to some, but in the big scheme, it doesn't mean much.

      The point about people being able to try out the ereader cannot be understated. Reading about them online doesn't compare to actually holding one in your hands and seeing how similar reading an e-ink display is to reading a novel.

      After that, content and the ability to get it on the device is the next big thing. Even though the nook has crippled wifi, you can bet pretty safely that even if B&N doesn't open it up, somebody else will. That is the beauty of them using Android for the OS. Plug-ins/apps for the device will materialize. And that is where it trumps the iphone tie-in: sure there may be 20million iphone users (wich will at some point get a Nook/B&N app for their device) but there are also another how many billion PC devices that can link/sync/converse with the Nook?

      Not too many closed systems can dominate thier arena. Openness and interoperability will win the day, which means Kindle's dominance though important, is fleeting...
      Heathen89
      • Dominate?

        "Not too many closed systems can dominate their arena."

        Agreed, not too many but there are some glaring exceptions, most of
        which are Apple's. I've an iPhone but think it won't be a big player
        simply because being an eReader is incidental to its purpose. Should
        Apple enter the market place with its rumored iTablet I suspect the
        game will change for eReaders. Instead of being an electronic library
        and a substitute for paper the iTablet, like the iPhone will be an all
        purpose device that incidentally you can read your favorite literature
        on. The difference between the iPhone and the Kindle, et al, including
        the rumored iTablet is that the form of the iPhone is simply too small
        for comfortable reading. The art of bookmaking has time proven
        formats, fonts, word and line spacing formulas that the iPhone cannot
        produce well. The iTablet on the other hand...
        dheady@...
  • RE: Retail distribution may tip e-reader race; Barnes & Noble rolls out Noo

    Why do people in the media have to come up with terms
    like
    Kindle killer or Iphone killer. It's ignorant and
    indicates a true lack of imagination. Kindles dominance
    is not based on being better (although its ease of use is
    a big factor) but rather on the content available and the
    price it's available at. Barnes and Nobles content
    library might be larger but at this point in time it is
    not comparable. I hope this will change since I like what
    I've seen of the Nook more than the Kindle. I do think
    that Amazon is being foolish by not making their books
    available in Epub format. They may have 60% of the market
    but that means they are just giving up on the other 40%
    and as these other readers start eating into their market
    I think that they will find that they've been very
    shortsighted.
    terryc@...
  • RE: Retail distribution may tip e-reader race; Barnes & Noble rolls out Nook

    nxnyjb,good post!
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