Tag Archives: Nook

Why Your Nook Says “God Bless You” When You Sneeze

Why did you put that biography down? You know – the biography of Thomas Jefferson? Don’t tell me you didn’t. You stopped reading on page 156.  We saw you.

Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other producers of e-book readers know this and a lot more about your reading habits.  They’ve developed some spookily sophisticated – and potentially invasive – ways to reach into your e-reader and finesse revealing information out of it, says Laura Hazard
Owen in a GigaOm posting, Big e-reader is watching you. In fact Barnes & Noble has “more data than we can use,” says an executive there.

The techniques are classified information, but Owen thinks these companies are converting what they’ve learned into new ways to capture and hold readers. For instance, if B&N know that you, and a lot of readers like you, are likely to put nonfiction down without finishing it, it may start producing shorter works that will grab your attention – and satisfy it. That may explain why Nook has launched Nook Snaps, a publishing initiative dedicated to shorter works, not dissimilar to Amazon Singles.

What else do they know about you? The possibilities are disturbing. Probably a good idea to cover up before you switch on your Kindle, Nook or iPad.

Richard Curtis
This blog post was originally published by Digital Book World as Do You Read in the Nude?


Target is Target (of Amazon Showrooming)

Independent bookstores aren’t the only retailers chafing at the practice of showroom. Just ask Target.

In showrooming, customers enter a retail store and, when they have located the product they’re shopping for, walk out, go home and purchase the item on the Internet at a lower price.  Some shoppers simply scan the barcode of the production in the store and order it online on the spot. This in effect makes the brick and mortar store a mere showroom for customers to examine products they have no intention of buying there. Last Christmas Amazon actually promoted the practice, outraging alarming and outraging many stores and store chains. We know of at least one publisher that fought back by discontinuing distribution of its books on Amazon.

The latest objector is Target, the giant retail store chain. Executives, reacting to what they perceived as showrooming of Amazon’s Kindle e-book reader, informed Amazon they would no longer carry it.

Though Amazon sells most of its Kindles on its own website, many customers like to examine them physically, just as they may now do with Kindle’s rival, Barnes & Noble’s Nook, which may be “road-tested” by customers in B&N’s brick and mortar bookstore.  Recognizing consumers’ natural impulse to touch, Amazon began distributing Kindles in big retail chains.

It’s hard to predict what impact Target’s action will have on Kindle sales.  With nearly 1,770 stores in 49 states and gross revenues of $65 billion, boycott of a product by Target can have some seriously detrimental impact on any supplier. More ominously, if Staples, Best Buy and Wal-Mart, which also sell Kindles, see themselves as showrooming victims and follow Target’s lead, it could put a crimp in Amazon’s sales – and its image.

For the complete story read Target, Unhappy With Being an Amazon Showroom, Will Stop Selling Kindles by Stephanie Clifford and Julie Bosman in the New York Times.

Richard Curtis

This blog post was originally published on Digital Book World as Target Targets Amazon as Showrooming Enabler


Wired Rates E-Readers. Readers Berate Wired

Wired recently rated the leading eInk e-book readers and set off a storm of snarky comments that may be more enlightening, and are certainly more entertaining, than Wired‘s analysis itself.  But more of that in a minute.

The analysts were in agreement about how far e-readers have come since the first generation (or second, for the Rocket Book predates the Kindle by almost a decade). “Entry-level e-readers have become better, faster, and more stylish,’ they note. “Considering their low cost, featherweight portability (6 to 7 ounces), battery life (up to a month per charge), and superior readability, it’s easy to justify having an e-reader and a tablet. Also, the lack of distractions on a dedicated reader is nice.”

Weighing the comparative merits of the Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook Simple Touch, Sony PRS-T1 and Kobo Touch, the team reviewed such features as the gadget’s price and depth of its bookstore. They also seized on the flicker factor.”Some e-readers flicker more between pages than others,” they write. “If you think a flicker is slightly annoying in the store, it will drive you absolutely nuts by page 200 of that Murakami novel.”

They rated the reading devices on a scale of 1 to 10:

1.  A complete failure in every way
2.  Barely functional; don’t buy it
3.  Serious flaws; proceed with caution
4.  Downsides outweigh upsides
5.  Recommended with reservations
6.  A solid product with some issues
7.  Very good, but not quite great
8.  Excellent, with room to kvetch
9.  Nearly flawless; buy it now
10. Metaphysical product perfection

We won’t keep you in suspense, but the top-rated e-reader turns out to be…the Kobo Touch, with a rating of 8 (Excellent, with room to kvetch): “Our surprise winner is the most natural e-ink reader we’ve ever used. Its touchscreen is the fastest and most responsive, yet it’s also smart enough to ignore unwanted inputs (a common failing in this class of devices). The shopping experience isn’t as personalized or directed as Amazon’s or Barnes & Noble’s, but the store’s pricing and selection are catching up.”  The kvetch? “No hardware buttons for page turns. Limited selection of periodicals. No Twitter integration.”

Alas, the Sony Reader merited only a 4: “Poky, cumbersome user interface. Disappointing store options. Expensive for what you get.”  For all reviews click here. But when you’re through, keep going.  The responses from readers started at vitriolic (“Is it too much to ask for basic relevance?”, “Brevity is no excuse for a level of incompetence on display here,” and “I already was pretty sure that you were a brainless blatherer when you name dropped Murakami. Then you confirmed it with ‘No Twitter integration'”) and descended to:

“Welcome to Wired…You are surprised by this ‘journalism’? You must not come here often. They have a bunch of kid contributors who are probably getting paid no better than the kids across the Pacific. Either the editors are non-existent, or they simply don’t care. It really seems sometimes these kids can write anything they want to and it just gets published.”

Richard Curtis
Note to readers: Digital Book World has invited me to post my blogs initially on its website before releasing them on E-Reads, and this content is re-published with DBW’s permission. Click here to view the original posting.


First Sighting of Free Reading Device – Our Spotters Say It’s a Nook!

We’ve spilled a lot of E Ink projecting that 2012 will be the year that Amazon starts giving away the Kindle as they realize that there’s more money to be made from the content than from the gadget it’s read on. (See Kindle Wants to Be Free) We took our eye off Kindle’s rival, Barnes & Noble’s Nook, but it looks like the younger warrior has stolen a march on Goliath. The Nook is being given away, at least in one instance. But if there’s one instance, more are probably more on the way.

“When customers subscribe to The New York Times ($19.99 per month), they get a Nook Simple Touch for free,’ writes Dara Kerr on CNET.

Can B&N, Amazon, or any other e-reader manufacturer afford to give away its hardware?  Sure.  Because as time goes by, the value of the gadget declines and the value of the content bundled on it rises.  And in the case of the free Nook Simple Touch, it’s a way of giving away an e-reader that may be a bit of a drug on the market anyway.  Sales of black and white dedicated reading devices like the Simple Touch or the original Kindle are sagging as consumers opt for the color and hyperactivity of tablets.  This was confirmed early in January when E Ink holdings reported an 84% drop in sales. E Ink is the print technology that powers black and white reading devices.

Read Barnes & Noble offers free Nook with NYT or People subscription


How’s Amazon Publishing Doing?

Play nice!

When Amazon selected Laurence Kirshbaum to head its New York-based book publishing initiative, many publishing people greeted the news with unalloyed enthusiasm.The former CEO of the Time Warner Book Group is one of the few truly branded personages traditional publishing and it was hard to imagine a better choice to amalgamate the two cultures of pre- and post-Kindle. It still is, and with the spring 2012 debut of Kirshbaum’s first list we’re ready to welcome it with a cheer.

Not everyone else is, however. Articles describing Amazon’s move from retail partner of publishers and bookstores to feared rival have become a genre of their own, and journalists are vying with each other for purple prose awards. Hide your children. Amazon is coming to get you was the subheadline of an Atlantic Monthly editorial on the subject by Rebecca J. Rosen. Rosen’s remarks typify the terror expressed by fellow pundits: “Amazon’s conquest of every step of a book’s journey into existence is nearing its final stages. First, it pushed out the brick-and-mortar bookstores, shuttering even the giant Borders. Next, with its Kindle it began to step on the toes of book publishers. But now, it is going right for publishers’ hearts: their authors.”

These concerns are far from groundless, but what we have lacked so far is an objective evaluation of Amazon’s performance to date as a publisher.  Given Amazon’s notable secrecy, there’s little point in looking to the company for help.  But Laura Hazard Owen, writing for PaidContent.org, has rendered a masterful analysis drawn from a variety of sources, plus inference, intuition, educated guesswork and good old journalistic shoe leather.

Owen’s conclusion? “Amazon Publishing hasn’t killed print yet.” Like its legacy publishing competitors, Amazon has won some, lost some, and broken even on some others.

In order to play on the same stage as Knopf or Farrar, Straus, there is one major obstacle for Amazon to clear away. It will have to reach out to bookstores and chains, who have been so traumatized by Amazon’s steamroller approach that many, including Barnes & Noble, refuse to buy anything with the Amazon imprint. B&N insists that Amazon retail its titles on the Nook, the same as other trade publishers like HarperCollins or Simon & Schuster are permitted to do.  Amazon needs to woo some major authors away from their traditional homes, says Owen.  But if those writers fear that their books will not be distributed in stores, or that their e-books will not be sold on the Nook, it may be that no amount of money will lure them into Amazon’s camp.

If anyone can successfully navigate these rapids it’s Larry Kirshbaum. But he and his team have their work cut out for them.

The Truth About Amazon Publishing

Richard Curtis


P-Books Hostage in E-Book War

Amazon and Barnes & Noble collided recently in a fearful clash. A lot of damage was inflicted but predictably the biggest victim was the customer.

The first shot was fired when Amazon acquired e-book rights to a trove of superhero graphic novels from DC Comics. Some one hundred volumes featuring Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Watchmen and Neil Gaiman’s Sandman were secured to promote Amazon’s newly released tablet, the Kindle Fire.

All well and good – except that Amazon’s e-book rights were exclusive. Meaning that rival Barnes & Noble would be deprived of the right to carry the titles on its Nook e-reader.  B&N could still sell the print editions, however. But that’s a big however. B&N told DC that if they couldn’t have e-book rights they didn’t want anything. Whereupon they pulled the print editions of those DC graphic novels from 1300 stores.

The result was a lose-lose-lose-lose-win situation.  DC lost sales – as well as face for “placing greed over its fans.” in the words of New York Times‘s David Streitfeld. Barnes & Noble lost bookstore and Nook sales too, plus the nose it lost to spite its face.  Customers and fans lost access to the books in Nook (and Sony and Kobo and Apple iPad). And at least one author is unhappy – Neil Gaiman, who was blindsided by Amazon’s ploy. ““I was very excited when I heard that Sandman was coming out as an e-book, but was heartbroken when it was announced that I and my kids won’t have it on our readers.”

It will come as no surprise that the lone winner was Amazon, which nailed the exclusive and got a boost from B&N’s abandonment of the print edition.

This is just the first of many such battles. Says Streitfeld: “As Amazon seeks over the next few years to expand its tablet line, these collisions over content are likely to become routine.”

Details in In a Battle of the E-Readers, Booksellers Spurn Superheroes

Richard Curtis


Men are from Tablets, Women from Nook

Are e-readers gender-specific?  Fox News seems to think so.  Laura Hazard Owen happens to think so too. She says tablets are a guy thing, Nooks and Kindles are for females. “A new study from Nielsen finds that 61 percent of e-reader owners are now female, she writes in Paid Content, “but women lag behind men  in ownership of tablets, 43% to 57%.”

To what does Owen attribute these tilts? She speculates that Barnes & Noble’s pitch of the Nook to women has been very effective:

Use your Nook while you get your hair done: Marketing also plays a part. Barnes & Noble CEO William Lynch recently introduced the new Nook Simple Touch Reader by suggesting it was easy enough for a grandmother to use. The Nook videos on B&N’s website are narrated by women, and someone named ‘Kate’ describes the product features. An ad, ‘I love my Nook Color,’ features a female special-ed teacher, a ‘marketing professional’ named Megan who describes the Nook Color as ‘pretty,’ and Rhoda, a ‘retired teacher and grandma, who says, ‘I’m a dinosaur, that’s what my kids call me…but if I can do this, it’s definitely easy.’ (One guy, who doesn’t speak in the ad, is thrown in at the end.) One Nook TV ad, ‘Love of Reading,’ shows women using their Nooks while cooking, pregnant, and at the beauty parlor.”

The demographics on age are even more eye-opening. “Thirty percent of e-reader owners are now over the age of 55, compared to 25 percent in Q3 2010. A full 51 percent are over the age of 45. Meanwhile, market share for e-reader usage among younger people is declining for people under the age of 45. It might seem as though all of those people are switching over to tablets, but that does not appear to be the case. For example, 18- to 24-year-olds made up 15 percent of e-reader owners in Q3 2010, and 10 percent now. 18- to 24-year-olds made up 23 percent of tablet owners in Q3 2010, and that is down to 13 percent now,” writes Owen.

She doesn’t address the reasons for the decline in ownership of tablets by young people but in this economy it’s always a good idea to look at the price as a determining factor.

Who Loves E-Readers? Your Mom by Laura Hazard Owen

Richard Curtis


Who Wins the War of the Reading Devices?

The proof of the pudding is in the tasting, and the proof of the e-book reader is in the reading.  Nick Bilton of the New York Times sampled numerous readers including that tried and true gadget called the paperback, and in  Deciding on a Book, and How to Read It presents his conclusions.

Reading one chapter on each device, he reached the following conclusions:

Kindle: “A joy in many respects…It is a dedicated e-reader, so you can’t hop off to the Web to look up facts…Kindle software works on almost every device with a screen and an Internet connection… [The keyboard] seems like a waste of space.”

Mobile phones: “Simple and satisfactory.”

Apple apps: “Big downside for many is that you can read them only on Apple devices…iBooks looks beautiful, with a design that feels more like a traditional book, with sepia-toned paper and stylistic typography, again, it is available only on Apple devices.”

Google eBookstore “Wasn’t quite as satisfactory as I’d had with the Kindle…its design felt a little too rigid and even clunky.”

iPad 1: “Too heavy and feels more like a dumbbell than an e-reader.”

iPad 2: “Lighter and feels snug in your hands… Both iPads offer an immersive reading experience. I found myself jumping back and forth between my book and the Web, looking up old facts and pictures… I also found myself being sucked into the wormhole of the Internet and a few games of Angry Birds rather than reading my book.” [Make up your mind, Bilton. Is iPad immersive or distractive?]

Barnes & Noble Color Nook: “Unlike Amazon’s device it allows you to surf the Web. It is a little slow, though, and that sometimes frustrated me…Like the Kindle software, the Barnes & Noble reading application is downloadable to several devices. It also offers some neat features that separates it from its competitors.”

Print paperback: “It took barely a paragraph for me to feel frustrated. I kept looking up things on my iPhone, and forgetting to earmark my page.” Obviously Bilton wasn’t familiar with the Floppatronic Fleeber, reviewed in these pages a while ago, but it’s my personal favorite way to read.

Notable in its omission from Bilton’s article is the Sony eReader, which may in itself be a statement of where that device stands – or falls – in the pantheon of choices.

Richard Curtis



Barnes & Noble in Play?

The investment world is abuzz with the news that John Malone’s Liberty Media, a conglomerate that owns Starz and QVC among other holdings, has made an offer to acquire Barnes & Noble.  B&N’s value ebbed as rival amazon.com soared to dominance through brilliant technology and marketing.  The launch of the Kindle and its preeminence in the e-book space set a torrid pace that the traditional book chain could not keep up with.

But B&N’s stock value has been climbing back spearheaded by its own digital strategy built around its Nook E-Reader.  It may be the entertainment potential of the Nook that attracted John Malone.



Sheesh! We Just Got Over the Death of Books; Now it’s the Death of E-Readers?

“The e-reader’s days are numbered,” writes HuffPo’s Amy Lee. Despite millions of e-book readers sold in the last couple of years, Lee foresees obsolescence for Kindles and Nooks as tablets take grip and ultimately take charge.

Her surmise is drawn from prestigious technical and media research firm Forrester, who project that by next year tablets will outsell e-readers, and in less than four years there will be twice as many tablet owners as e-reader owners.

The reason is simple: history proves that that given a choice between a dedicated device and a multifunctional one, it’s multifunctional every time. “As the demise of the Flip camera suggests, consumers are increasingly trading single-purpose devices for multifunction gadgets. Especially as the price of tablet computers continues to fall, experts predict users will drop e-readers for tablet PCs that offer web-browsing and video capabilities alongside e-books.

“Even Amazon, which helped make e-readers and ebooks mainstream, appears to recognize the e-reader’s impending demise and is rumored to be developing its own tablet device. The Barnes & Noble Nook Color has already been modified to run Android’s Froyo software, taking it into tablet territory.”

Lee quotes another tech firm that relegates the future of e-readers to a niche. 

A niche!

We’re not sentimental about our Kindle but this is one prediction we think is dead wrong. The compactness and utility of Kindles and Nooks (the original Kindles, the original Nooks) can’t be matched by tablets. More importantly, book lovers love to immerse themselves without distraction in their books.  They like their dedicated e-book devices to be…well, dedicated. So we’re betting against the house on this one.  Niche indeed!

You decide whether or not The ereader’s days are numbered.

Richard Curtis