E-reader technology to be the next revolution
Barnes and Noble unveils their e-reader technology challenging Amazon and bound to woo publishers and readers alike.
Washington -- The biggest bookstore chain in the United States jumped into the increasingly crowded electronic book reader market on Tuesday, unveiling its own device in a challenge to Amazon's popular Kindle.
Barnes and Noble said the wireless touchscreen device called the "Nook," which costs 259 USD -- the same price as the basic Kindle -- would be available at the end of November.
Powered by Google's Android software, the Nook features a black-and-white electronic ink display for reading books and a small color touchpad for navigation, storing books or making purchases.
Barnes and Noble said readers will have access through its online bookstore to more than one million books, newspapers and magazines and it eventually plans to offer "in digital form, subscriptions to every major US daily."
Nook users will also be allowed to lend e-books to others for free for up to 14 days to read on various devices including the Apple iPhone, the iPod touch and certain BlackBerry and Motorola smartphones.
Barnes and Noble said the Nook, which is about the size of a paperback book, can hold up to 1,500 e-books and up to 17,500 with an external memory card.
The Nook is the latest entrant in an e-reader market which has already seen two major product announcements this week.
Plastic Logic, a Mountain View, California-based firm, said Monday it will announce the availability and pricing of an e-reader for business professionals called the "QUE" at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January.
And another US company, Fremont, California-based Spring Design Inc. said Monday it will release a dual-screen e-reader known as "Alex" also powered by Android, later this year.
Amazon does not release Kindle sales figures but Forrester estimates the Seattle-based online retail giant has a nearly 60 percent share of the US market followed by the Sony Reader with 35 percent.
Other companies offering e-readers include Britain's Interead, maker of the "Cool-er," and Dutch company IREX Technologies.
Apple is also rumored to be coming out with a portable tablet computer early next year that may double as an e-reader.
Forrester Research estimates that three million e-readers will be sold in the United States this year, up from a previous forecast of two million units, and for e-reader sales to double to six million units next year.
A Forrester analyst said Barnes and Noble appear to have Amazon in their sights but "will need to use all the tools in its arsenal -- merchandising it prominently in its stores, promoting it through advertising, email marketing, etc. -- to make up for lost time since the Kindle's launch in 2007."
"To steal market share from Amazon and make up for lost time, B&N is pricing the Nook as aggressively as possible," Sarah Rotman-Epps said in a blog post. "Getting the price right is crucial to success in this emerging device market.
"We expected something in the range of 399 USD, which would make the device competitive with the other touch plus wireless eReaders on the market, the Sony Daily Edition and the iRex DR800SG," she said.
"Pricing the Nook a full 140 USD below these other devices sends a strong signal that B&N is focused on Amazon, not Sony, as competition," she said.
Sony in August announced that it was doing away with proprietary software on its Sony Reader and converting to an industry standard in a move that allows the company to make its e-book store compatible with multiple devices.
Sony's move was seen as another challenge to Amazon, whose electronic books can only be read on the Kindle or on an Apple iPhone using Kindle software.
Chris Lefkow/ AFP/Expatica