Amazon.com’s Kindle will be available at Best Buy starting this fall, giving the online retailer an offline channel for its popular e-reader. Barnes & Noble’s Nook, perhaps the Kindle’s highest-profile competitor, is already available at Best Buy in addition to the bookseller’s bricks-and-mortar locations.
The Kindle will also retail at Staples sometime in the fall timeframe.
In a Sept. 9 press release, Best Buy offered no firm date for the Kindle’s release, but indicated that all three devices in the e-reader line-the WiFi-only Kindle, the 3G-enabled version and the larger-screened Kindle DX-will eventually be available.
Amazon has claimed that the third-generation Kindle, which it announced July 28, is on track to outsell its predecessors. The newest device features a higher-contrast e-ink screen, longer battery life, Wikipedia access, support for password-protected PDFs and a more lightweight body. It retails for $189, while the WiFi-only version costs $139-the latter undercutting Barnes & Noble’s Nook WiFi by $10.
Barnes & Noble and Amazon, along with smaller e-reader manufacturers, have been engaged in something of a price-cutting and software-adding war over the summer. In June, hours after Barnes & Noble dropped the cost of the original Nook to $189, Amazon followed suit.
Meanwhile, Sony has followed a different strategy, offering its refreshed e-readers with additional features at a higher price. The devices feature slimmer and lighter bodies, e-ink screens with higher contrast and clarity, and the ability to make annotations.
Despite their battles with each other, both the Kindle and Nook face possibly their biggest threat in the Apple iPad, which includes an e-reader application. Although both Amazon and Barnes & Noble have remained tight-lipped about their overall unit sales, some outside analysts have estimated Kindle shipments at a number already surpassed by the iPad.
“Last night, Apple stated it has shipped 3.27 [million] iPads since the April product launch, surpassing our estimate for an installed base of [around 3 million] Amazon Kindles to date despite supply constraints,” Marianne Wolk, an analyst with Susquehanna Financial Group, wrote in a co-authored July 21 analyst report. “As [Apple’s] supply constraints ease, Apple iPad shipments should ramp and it could ship as many as 12 to 15 [million] iPads in 2010-a compelling base for publishers to consider.”
Additional retail outlets, of course, will offer the Kindle an additional way to maintain-and perhaps grow-its overall market share.