Barnes and Noble enters the e-book reader market

Barnes and Noble has announced the Nook, their e-book reader.

This is in direct competition to Amazon’s Kindle.  It’s a very similar bit of technology, the major difference being that the B&N Nook will allow users to “share” e-books with other Nook users.  It works this way.  You purchase an ebook from B&N on your Nook.  You like it.  You think your buddy, who also has a Nook, would like it. So you can “loan” that book to said buddy.  It will be available to be read on his Nook for two weeks.  My bet is that this will generate a lot a ebook sales.

Now, some may argue that Amazon already owns the  mind share for e-book readers, having crushed the Sony E-Reader in the market.  The Kindle took off because Amazon was already seen as a major e-retailer of books and they had the ability to buy books immediately on the Kindle using mobile Internet technology.  Sony wasn’t known as a book seller and they had no such “instant buy” option.  The Nook has a similar broadband connection to the Kindle and B&N is seen as a major retailer of books by the public.  The fact that B&N has a much larger ebook library than Amazon doesn’t hurt either.

There are two major flaws I can see with the Nook.  First, the whole DRM thing. Second is that it only supports three formats, EPUB, eReader and PDF.  A few more, including unencrypted Mobipocket, would be nice.

Amazon has responded, quietly, with the announcement that they will release free “Kindle software” for the PC platform, so people can read Amazon’s DRM crippled ebooks on their desktop or notebook computers.  MAC and LINUX users are not supported in this release.  Amazon is also selling refurbish (i.e. used) first gen Kindles for $150.


4 Responses

  1. […] Originally published at Urbin Technology. […]

  2. I’ve got a Sony. One of the old ones, a PRS-500. Most of my e-books are public domain RTF files; unfortunately, most of the new systems don’t seem to support that…

  3. That is one of the design features/flaws of both the Kindle and the Nook, they are designed to push people to purchase the DRM crippled books from their respective book sellers.

    You can get those files onto a Kindle, by emailing them to Amazon, which will convert them to their DRM format. A direct load to your kindle costs a dime. For free, Amazon will email it to you and then you have to load it over USB.

    You could convert them to PDF using OpenOffice, but then you have the problem with that the late Jim Baen identified with PDF, you can’t change the font size, background/text colors, etc., in order to optimize your reading experience.

  4. Right, and that’s exactly why I convert public-dmain document files to RTF instead of PDF. Just about every device in the world will reflow the text of an RTF file, allowing you to pick the most comfortable font size for a given screen.

    PDFs won’t do that, so a PDF which looks fine on your laptop can be completely unreadable on an ereader which supports PDFs.

    And, of course, converting the files to any sort of proprietary format produces headaches in the long run. I already had to convert my library from Palm .PDBs to RTF, I’m reluctant to do so again when just about any document reader should be able to handle something as straightforward as RTF.

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