Tag Archives | Barnes & Noble

Nook Tablet vs. Kindle Fire: A Guide to Decide

Nook Tablet and Kindle Fire

If it’s a cheap tablet you’re after, Barnes & Noble and Amazon want your business. Amazon’s $199 Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble’s $249 Nook Tablet both look promising on paper—the former with its suite of Amazon services, and latter with its superior specs and more diverse streaming video offerings—but chances are, you’ve only got room for one tablet on your holiday wish list.

As is often the case with gadgets, finding the best 7-inch tablet is a matter of figuring out your personal needs. Below, I’ll divvy up the strengths of the Nook Tablet and Kindle Fire so you can figure out what’s most important.

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Booksellers Beat the Tech Companies

GigaOm’s Kevin C. Tofel on why Amazon and Barnes & Noble’s rather modest Android tablets have a shot at succeeding when more ambitious ones from other companies have not:

Surprisingly, it took two booksellers / digital content companies to figure out there’s a market for smaller, less expensive tablets that focus on key consumer activities. The Fire and Nook may not be computer replacements, but for most people, neither is the iPad, yet it’s easily outselling comparable Android tablets by a large margin according to the limited data available.


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Barnes & Noble’s New Nook Attempts to Out-Kindle the Kindle

Barnes & Noble’s first e-reader was the original E Ink version of the Nook, which had its virtues but lagged far behind Amazon.com’s Kindle in terms of overall polish. Then the company released the Nook Color, which went off in an un-Kindle-ish direction: color, richly-formatted magazines, and Android apps.

Today, B&N announced another new Nook–and this one, it appears, is meant to take the Kindle on more squarely than either of its predecessors.It’s $139 (matching the price of the Wi-Fi Kindle, but not the ad-supported one). It looks like a Kindle, with a gray case and 6″ E Ink screen (and no color touchscreen strip, the most striking feature of the original Nook). It stresses great battery life–in fact, Barnes & Noble is claiming two months on a charge, vs. one month for the Kindle.

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Nook Color’s New App Market, Software Emphasize the “Tablet” in “Reader’s Tablet”

A little over a week ago, I wondered whether the world needed tablets that were significantly less costly and significantly less fancy than the iPad and its most prominent rivals. A couple of commenters said that such a beast already existed: Barnes & Noble’s Nook Color e-reader. They had a point. At $249, B&N’s Android-based tablet is half the price of the cheapest iPad. Its 7″ color screen and industrial design are quite nice, but it doesn’t have a 1-GHz dual-core processor or  cameras or gobs of storage (it has a merely adequate 8GB) or 3G or other features which are becoming de facto accouterments on higher-end models.

Of course, Barnes & Noble has never pitched the Nook Color as an iPad killer. It calls it a “reader’s tablet,” and it gave the device a modified version of Android that doesn’t have the standard Android interface or access to the Android Marketplace. It’s Amazon.com’s cheaper, E-Ink-sporting Kindle that’s been in B&N’s crosshairs.

But when the company released the Nook Color last year, it did say it was working on an app marketplace of its own–a move that would make the Nook Color a little less of a dedicated e-reader and a little more of a general-purpose device. (Already, some geeky buyers had rooted their Nooks to turn them into standard Android tablets.) Today, B&N is launching that marketplace–which is a new section in the shopping area where it already sells books and magazines–as part of the Nook Color’s version 1.2 upgrade. And while it’s sticking with the “reader’s tablet” idea and saying it’ll focus on reading materials and complementary items, it’s also saying that it’s listened to consumers who think that a $249 Nook Color has a place as an alternative to pricier, more powerful tablets.

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Who’s Suing Who? A Cheat Sheet to the Mobile Patent Mess

So Apple is suing Samsung, accusing it of imitating Apple products with its Galaxy phones and tablets. The most startling thing about the news may be that the two companies weren’t already in court with each other. Over the past few years, the mobile industry has been so rife with suits and countersuits that if every complainant managed to sue every subject of its ire out of business…well, there’d hardly be a mobile industry left.

I had trouble remembering the precise details of the umpteen cases that have made headlines–as well as some related relationships, such as Microsoft’s licensing agreements with Amazon and HTC–so I decided to document them with a handy-dandy infographic, as much for my own edification as anyone else’s.

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More Patent Madness: Microsoft is Suing Barnes & Noble

More news in the never-ending saga of technology companies suing each other over patents: Microsoft is suing Barnes & Noble and its manfuacturing partners Foxconn and Inventec, saying that the bookseller’s Android-based Nook and Nookcolor e-readers violate Microsoft software patents dating back to the 1990s. The move isn’t a shocker given that Microsoft had already sued Motorola over Android phones and struck licensing agreements with HTC (for Android phones) and Amazon.com (for the not-based-on-Android Kindle e-reader).

The license fee that Microsoft says it expects makers of Android devices to pay it would make it the only company to collect a royalty on every Android-based gadget sold. (Google gives away the software.)

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The Nookcolor for $199

Barnes & Noble’s Nookcolor is a good e-reader that leads a secret double life as a reasonably-priced Android tablet. And now B&N is selling them on eBay for a startlingly low price: $199.


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The Decline and Fall of Physical Media Retailing: A Timeline

Some of you may find this difficult to believe, but there was once a time when this country was positively bulging at the seams with cavernous retail establishments that offered books, recorded music, home video, or some combination thereof. Okay, there are still some of them left. But with Monday’s news that bookselling behemoth Borders is filing for bankruptcy and shuttering at least 200 stores, it’s worth taking a look at what’s happened to the retailing of physical media in this country in recent years. It’s been a remarkably bleak time.

The music retailing business has almost completely collapsed; the nation’s biggest video-rental outfit is bankrupt and its largest competitor folded last year; Borders is threatened with extinction and its larger and more successful rival, Barnes & Noble, faces serious challenges. All this woe has befallen these industries at the same time that digital media–from music downloads to streaming movies–has boomed.

You can’t blame digital content alone for media retailing’s hard times. Storekeeping has always been a tricky business, especially during economic slumps. (I don’t think that MP3s or iTunes had anything to do with the demise of big chains such as Linens n’ Things. Long before Amazon and Netflix started distributing content digitally, they up-ended their respective industries by shipping physical goods through the mail–Amazon has better prices every day than Borders has when it’s having a going-out-of-business sale.) And several of the giant retailers that have crashed seem to have been the victim of their own boneheaded business decisions more than anything else. (Borders opened three locations within two miles of each other in San Francisco, all of which are now toast; the management of Hollywood Video mocked Netflix-style mail-order DVD distribution as a blip they didn’t need to concern themselves with.)

Anyhow, here’s a timeline of what’s happened to the nation’s largest physical-media merchants over the past eight years. It starts in February of 2003–a little over four years after Diamond Media released the Rio PMP300 MP3 player, a moment that I, at least, consider the real beginning of the digital revolution.

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I Own a "Vast Kindle Library," and I'm Worried

Today, I wanted to buy a book. I did what I usually do these days before I plunk down my money for one: I checked to see if it was available as an Amazon Kindle e-book–one which I’d be able read not only on a Kindle but also on an iPad, an iPhone, an Android phone, a Mac, or a PC. It was. My finger instinctively lunged towards the 1-Click button.

And then it dawned on me: With the recent development that Apple is going to require creators of e-reader apps to sell books using its in-app purchasing feature, it’s not the least bit clear what the fate of Kindle books on Apple devices will be. (Apple says that as long as e-readers support in-app purchases, they’ll be able to retain access to digital books bought elsewhere–even though this violates the App Store approval guidelines.)

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E-Readers: They're All Selling Like an Unspecified Number of Hotcakes!

Back in August, I wrote about Amazon.com’s odd habit of frequently bragging about sales of its Kindle e-reader without ever providing explicit numbers. It continues to do so–and it’s inspired its competitors to do some similarly evasive crowing of their own.

Barnes & Noble issued a press release today that it had sold “millions” of Nooks since the first version’s release in December of 2009. But it mostly bragged about Nook sales without disclosing them, by saying that Nooks are the company’s best-selling products ever, and that the Nookcolor is its best-selling gift this holiday season.

Barnes & Noble, Inc. (NYSE: BKS), the world’s largest bookseller, today announced that with millions of NOOK eReading devices sold, the line has become the company’s biggest bestseller ever in its nearly 40-year history.  The new NOOKcolor Reader’s Tablet, introduced just eight weeks before Christmas, is the company’s number one selling gift of the holiday season. Barnes & Noble also announced that it now sells more digital books than its large and growing physical book business on BN.com, the world’s second largest online bookstore.

[snip]

Demand for the critically acclaimed NOOKcolor remained high following the product’s introduction in late October through the holidays. Sales have continued to exceed the company’s high expectations.

The only hard number in the release is the “millions” of Nooks sold; we can apparently assume that B&N has sold at least two million devices. (A few weeks ago, it was a minor news story when an Amazon staffer said that “millions” of third-generation Kindles had been sold in 73 days; I wonder if B&N would have been even this specific if Amazon hadn’t made the leap first?)

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