Finding the right bookshelf for the Nook


What will the Nook’s future be?

Barnes & Noble’s Nook e-readers face fierce competition from the Kindle and iPad. B&N has tripled its advertising since 2009, adding to the huge development costs of the Nook, The Wall Street Journal reports. B&N’s EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) have fallen to $163 million in the year ending April 2011 from $281 million the previous year.

One of the leaders of a minority shareholder firm recently said competing with Amazon and Apple is a “big-boy game” and that B&N may need partners to play that game. B&N, meanwhile, said it is seeking partners for overseas ventures.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the bookseller could possibly either sell a minority stake in the Nook line, setting up a separate management team, or sell the Nook brand outright.

I believe it would be short-sighted to sell the Nook brand outright. Barnes & Noble could very effectively use its brick and mortar stores – the ones that survive in the years ahead – to promote the Nook e-reader and its accessories. Bookstore customers are good candidates to buy e-readers. And Barnes & Noble and Nook can be co-promoted together if the corporation continues to own both brands. You lose that cohesiveness if Nook gets sold; even if a tech behemoth like Microsoft or Google buys the Nook, the new owner has lost that connection to a traditional bookstore and its customers.

Observations on the Kindle


Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of blogs on the Kindle.

There are two versions of the current Kindle: the Wi-Fi model, for $139, and the 3G/Wi-Fi model, for $189.

While it would be nice to have the model with 3G wireless access, I opted for the cheaper one since I had placed it on my Christmas list. I have access to Wi-Fi at work, so it’s not an inconvenience.

The E Ink technology makes for an amazingly easy read even on what is only a 6-inch screen – much easier than my larger laptop screen with its backlit video screen. It’s much easier to read from the Kindle screen than from my tiny Blackberry screen.

The E Ink makes for a true book-like read which is easy on the eyes, and the size of the text at normal view is large enough for comfort – and it can be adjusted larger. Also, you can read it outside without glare.

 

Books and other orders are downloaded in less than a minute, an amazing feat considering the amount of time it can take to load a simple page on an Internet browser on your computer.

I quickly adapted to navigating through book pages and newspaper sections and stories.  Forward and backward arrow buttons are strategically placed on the left and right sides, making for convenient page turning.  There is a four-way arrow button placed around an Enter button that can be used to change stories in newspaper editions, etc. Other control features include a QWERTY keypad. The Home button takes you from a book to the menu of the media loaded onto your machine. The Menu button gives you such options as accessing the wireless connection, checking for new media orders and viewing notes (You have the ability to highlight and copy text to notes.).

The battery is rated to last up to a month, and after four days of using my Kindle, there’s no sign of the battery dying anytime soon, so I cannot yet rate this claim. The Kindle defaults to sleep mode after a few minutes of no use, showing a mix of screen savers that include portraits of famous authors and drawings from old books.

Cons: Although the Kindle has a built-in Web browser, I have only used it to connect to the Amazon.com Kindle site to set up my device and order some books. Web browsing is not Kindle’s forte, especially with the limited control panel. That’s the only con I have found so far.

Next blog: The Kindle on a budget

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