Barnes & Noble's Nook e-reader experienced months of delays due to supposed demand, a situation that may be changing with the bookseller's announcement that the Nook will be available in most stores starting midweek. The Nook is also listed as "in stock" online. Competition in the e-reader arena has heated up as the Nook, Amazon.com's Kindle and soon the Apple iPad all compete for dominancy of the e-text market, with technological innovations and pricing seen as key factors in whether the manufacturers will seize a majority of market share.
Barnes & Noble announced Feb. 8 that its Nook e-reader will be
available in most of its stores nationwide by midweek, possibly bringing an end
to months of delays for the devices. The Nook was also listed as "In
Stock" on Barnes & Noble's Website.
The retailer originally attributed the Nook's holiday delays to what it
called "unprecedented customer demand." In a Feb. 8 press release,
the company said it had ramped up production to cover the shortfall, and that
devices will make appearances in most of its stores by Feb. 10.
Perhaps of more importance to Nook owners, Barnes & Noble announced that
it will push software updates to users' devices throughout this week. Early
reviews for the Nook were generally positive for its hardware, but found
deficiencies in software features such as page-loading times. Walt Mossberg of
the Wall Street Journal and David Pogue of The New York Times both suggested
that those software bugs and poor battery life affected what was otherwise a
solid user experience.
& Noble had originally offered $100 gift vouchers to customers who had preordered
their Nook for delivery by Dec. 24
but did not receive the device on time.
Previously, the company had announced that anyone ordering the device after
Nov. 20 would have their shipment delayed until the first week of January, a
date eventually raised to Feb. 1 for those ordering a Nook after Dec. 21.
Although originally described as a niche product by at least one analyst
earlier in 2009, e-readers managed to become one of the must-have items of the
holiday season, propelling something of a price war between Barnes &
Noble's Nook and Amazon.com's Kindle e-reader. By December, the cost of both
the Nook and the Kindle 2 had fallen to $259, even as the larger-screened and
relatively uncontested Kindle DX kept its retail price at $489.
Competition will likely increase over the next few months, as Apple prepares
to launch its iPad tablet PC and iBook store, and other e-reader manufacturers
continue to update their own devices. Amazon has reportedly acquired Touchco, a
New York-based startup that focuses on multitouch technology, which would
potentially allow the Kindle to be upgraded from its current mechanical
controls to include some touch-screen capability.
The Nook already includes an iPhone-style touch screen, along with its e-ink
display, for navigation and book purchasing. At this January's Consumer
Electronics Show in Las Vegas,
smaller e-reader manufacturers also demonstrated devices with a touch-screen
Barnes & Noble, along with Amazon, may also find itself increasingly in
conflict with publishers over e-book pricing. Amazon
has been in public conflict with a handful of publishers, including Macmillan
who want to raise the price of e-books from the Kindle store's $9.99 to a range
between $12.99 and $14.99. That move is widely seen as a gambit by publishers
to improve their margins as devices such as the iPad continue to flood the