Categories: MobilityWorkspace

Barnes and Noble Adds Touchscreen To Nook

Barnes & Noble’s challenge to the Amazon Kindle continues with the arrival of a new grayscale e-reader device, that borrows tablet-like functionality in the form of a touchscreen.

That represents a radical change for the bookseller, which had concentrated its most recent efforts on the Nook Color, a full-colour e-reader with some tablet-style features.

The new Nook features a 6-inch screen and weighs less than eight ounces. Barnes & Noble claims the battery will last for two months on a single charge, and that the device’s memory can store up to 1,000 e-books and periodicals. It retails for $139 (£86), with shipping slated to begin 10 June.

Tablet Functionality

Contrast that to the Nook Color, which retails for $249 (£154) and features access to 125 apps, enhanced audio and video for certain titles, and a social-networking app that lets readers swap books and recommendations.

In a decidedly tablet-like twist, it also consolidates web-based email into a single in- box, along with support for Adobe Flash Player. Many analysts saw that device as an attempt to flank Amazon’s grayscale Kindle, which is widely perceived as dominating the e-reader market.

“Barnes & Noble is not targeting Apple with this device. Instead, it’s targeting Amazon, trying to undermine today’s black-and-white Kindle as well as tomorrow’s colour Kindle tablet,” James McQuivey, an analyst with Forrester, wrote in an 25 April blog posting about the Nook Color. “Barnes & Noble may have come to market with its original e-ink Nook second, but its Nook Color upgrade gives it the upper hand in the war over the serious reader.”

Even as Barnes & Noble seemed increasingly all in on colour e-reading, Amazon concentrated on enhancing the Kindle’s reading capabilities. On 20 April, the company announced a Kindle Library Lending feature, due later in 2011, which will allow readers to borrow Kindle e-books from more than 11,000 libraries in the United States. Amazon is also seeking to broaden Kindle adoption with an ad-supported device that retails for $114 (£70), slightly cheaper than the basic Kindle at $139 (£86) and the Kindle 3G at $189 (£117).

Paper Decline

Evidently, Barnes & Noble wasn’t willing to let its own grayscale efforts languish into obsolescence. Nor could it, really, when data suggests that the popularity of various e-reader manufacturers is (for all intents and purposes) drowning the market for traditional print books in the proverbial bathtub.

“The book publishing industry has entered a period of long-term decline because of the rising sales of e-book readers,” reads an 28 April research note from IHS iSuppli, which predicted a decrease in book revenue at a compound annual rate of three percent through 2014 – a reversal from the period between 2005 and 2010, when revenue rose.

“For the traditional book publishing industry, the implications of the rise of the e-book and e-book reader markets are frightening, given the decline in paper book printing, distribution and sales,” Steve Mather, IHS iSuppli’s principal analyst for wireless, wrote in an 28 April statement. “The industry has entered a phase of disruption that will be as significant as the major changes impacting the music and movie business.”

But with an e-reader, you can carry dozens of books in the palm of your hand. In the palm of your hand.

Nicholas Kolakowski eWEEK USA 2013. Ziff Davis Enterprise Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Nicholas Kolakowski eWEEK USA 2013. Ziff Davis Enterprise Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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