The Nook: Barnes & Noble announces its own e-reader


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At a news conference in New York this afternoon, Barnes & Noble launched an e-reader set to rival’s 2-year-old Kindle. The Nook, as they call it, will retail for $259.

The Barnes & Noble website went live with Nook pages earlier today, which Engadget and other sites quickly posted. After the news conference, it’s clear that the Nook is a strong step forward for e-book readers.


What’s new and exciting in the Nook:

  • It’s got a color navigation panel. Not full-color, but it’s a start and more than what the other guys have.
  • It can be bought in Barnes & Noble’s brick-and-mortar stores. Walk into a Barnes & Noble this holiday season and you’ll be able not only to ogle, fondle and purchase the Nook, but also use it to browse digital books. That’s never been possible with the Kindle.
  • It’s wireless. The Kindle is too; the Sony Reader hasn’t been but will be, they say, come December.
  • Nook owners can share: They can lend their books to friends -- anyone with an iPhone, iPod touch, some smartphones and computers with the B&N reader software. No other digital reader has this capacity.
  • It’s pretty big: 2GB with an expandable 16GB slot.
  • It can play MP3s.
  • It can read PDFs; the Kindle can’t.

What it’s not so good at:

  • It doesn’t have Amazon’s text-to-speech feature.
  • It’s heavier than the Kindle.
  • Its 10 days of battery life are fewer than Kindle’s 14.

The Wall Street Journal and CNET live-blogged the New York announcement, which included a guest appearance by Malcolm Gladwell. Nook buyers will get a free digital copy of Gladwell’s ‘The Tipping Point.’ Amazon gave readers a copy of Stephen King’s ‘UR,’ written specifically for the Kindle, and had King appear to help them debut Kindle 2.0.

According to the Wall Street Journal, William Lynch Jr, president of B&, said, ‘We support more e-devices than any other e-book retailer.’ In addition to being able to read PDFs, Barnes & Noble will be the e-bookstore for the new Que e-reader device from Plastic Logic. Moving away from proprietary formats can only benefit the world of e-books. Who wants to buy a digital book for one e-reader only to have to buy it again for a different brand?

Amazon’s Kindle has dominated the e-reader market, as the Sony Reader has struggled to find traction. Although we won’t know until the holidays are over, it looks as if the Nook may become a serious Kindle competitor.

As for the Nook -- is it a good name? It’s kind of cozy, a place you’d go to read. And it does rhyme with ‘book.’ But is it catchy? When people ask what that device is, will owners happily say, ‘A Nook’?

-- Carolyn Kellogg