Monday, November 2, 2009

A Nook, a Kindle and a Tablet Walk into a Bar ...

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, animals both domesticated and wild, pokol; vurderlak; eyalik.

Image courtesy of

Some interesting debates over e-books since the news broke of Barnes & Noble's new nook e-reader. I think the pros and cons between the Kindle and nook have been exhausted, so I'll try to avoid who has the bigger--um--set of features. My take is quite simple: demand for e-readers will taper off if they continue to use proprietary formats.

Here's how I see the e-reader market as it stands between the two current top-tier devices, Amazon's Kindle and B&N's nook. Amazon has positioned their device for people more inclined to want technology over longevity by using a proprietary format, no problem for magazine or newspaper subscribers, but horrible for avid book readers that might actually use a good chunk of memory to house their libraries--the same avid readers that Barnes & Nobles is hoping to snag with the nook, which uses open standards (Epub, pdf, eReader) and offers a cute little lending option that allows nook users to share books with other nook users for 14 days.

Enter Apple. They're just sitting in the background and sharpening their talons. It's rumored that Apple doesn't want to participate in the e-book world, obviously because they are above all that nonsense, but for the helluvit, let's just assume Apple is lying; let us assume they plan to make a go at the e-book market once they introduce their tablet early next year. Who would be their target readers? Answer: Tech-savvy casual readers, who want eye-popping color for magazine subscriptions and newspapers. Compare that to the current 16-shades-of-gray E Ink technology in the Kindle and we're talking the difference between black & white television and Blu-ray. In this sense B&N will be free to nab up hardcore readers that are looking for a device to a) offset limited shelf space b) reduce the number of books carried while traveling c) are technical savvy people who are also avid readers.

Some of you may be reading this and saying, I own a Kindle and I read a lot, so you're a dumb ass. I am a dumb ass, but that's besides the point. I'm not saying the Kindle is not used by avid readers, I'm saying that Amazon has done a poor job of positioning the device for avid readers. You have a company promoting a device that can store thousands of books ... but only if you purchase every single one of those books from them.

So is the nook the Kindle killer? Nope. But if Amazon isn't careful, they're gonna pit themselves up against Apple, and that, I fear, would be a slaughter.


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