Barnes & Noble cut the price of its original Nook e-reader and announced a new WiFi-only version, as it seeks to compete in an increasingly crowded space against not only Amazon.com's Kindle but also the Apple iPad. This newest announcement follows April's Nook software update, which included a Web browser and Android-based games. Not to be outdone, Amazon slashed its Kindle price to below the original Nook's. Both the Nook and Kindle proved bestsellers during the 2009 holiday shopping season, according to their respective manufacturers, but the iPad's selling of 2 million units since its April debut suggests that the e-reader space will only get more competitive.
Barnes & Noble's Nook e-reader is now available in two versions, with
the bookseller issuing a cheaper WiFi-only device to complement its original
3G-equipped one. The rollout comes as Barnes & Noble finds itself competing
not only with Amazon.com's popular Kindle e-reader, but also the Apple iPad,
which features an e-reader application.
Barnes & Noble also lowered the price of the original Nook from $259 to
$199. The WiFi-only Nook, which will retail for $149 when it begins shipping
this week, is 7 ounces lighter than its older sibling, with a white back
panel instead of the 3G-enabled version's gray. Owners of either version can
receive a free connection at all AT&T hot spots.
Not to be outdone, Amazon.com announced June 21 that it will slash the price
of the Kindle from $259 to $189, undercutting the original Nook's
Barnes & Noble's hardware announcement comes almost exactly two months after
the bookseller announced a major software update for its e-reader
included a Web browser and Android-based games. Another new feature, "Read in
Store," allows Nook readers to browse the retailer's ebooks for free at any
Barnes & Noble bookstore, at least for an hour.
"We've also made additional reading and device performance enhancements
including improved page turn speed, faster access to previously opened ebooks,
enhanced touch-screen navigation and more," Paul Hochman, manager of Content
and Social Media at BarnesandNoble.com, wrote in an April 23 posting on the
Nook and BN eReader blog. "The new features and additional enhancements are
available with the updated Nook software now available via manual download at www.nook.com/update
Early criticisms of the Nook, when it was released in time for the holiday
2009 shopping season, centered on its perceived slowness and unpolished
The Nook's improvements parallel those of the Kindle, which Amazon has
positioned as a spectacular success despite refusing to reveal sales numbers.
Recent Kindle upgrades include the release of an SDK (software development kit)
for third-party developers to use in creating games or other applications. Its
latest software update, dubbed Version 2.5, includes Collections, a feature
that organizes books or documents into specific categories; Popular Highlights,
which displays passages in a particular book that the Kindle community finds
most interesting; and
the ability to share ebook passages via Facebook and Twitter.
Although e-readers were dismissed by some analysts as a niche item, both the
Nook and Kindle proved to be bestsellers during the 2009 holiday season.
During this January's Consumer Electronics Show, a number of smaller firms
debuted e-reader devices, although many of those have failed to materialize in
the marketplace in any meaningful way. All those manufacturers, however, face a
rising threat from the Apple iPad, which has sold more than 2 million units
since its April debut and offers an e-reader application with a color screen.
Barnes & Noble is evidently hoping that lower-cost Nooks will help it
gain an advantage in the increasingly crowded field.