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Allen Weiner
Research VP
7 years at Gartner
23 years IT industry

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Barnes & Noble Introduces The Nook, A Game-Changing Ereader

by Allen Weiner  |  October 20, 2009  |  19 Comments

Barnes and Noble ended weeks of speculation by announcing The Nook, its new ereader that should not only throw a scare into Amazon but also put somewhat of a damper on the ereading capabilities of planned tablets/devices from Apple and Microsoft. Barnes and Noble has addressed many shortcomings of existing devices with The Nook by supporting epub, a major open ebook standard, as well as allowing consumers to loan books to one another. The Nook also supports PDF allowing owners to sideload content such as personal documents. The devices, which will retail for $259, are available for pre-order and are expected to ship at the end of November. The Nook will be available online (at nook.com and barnesandnoble.com) as well as in the company’s more than 700 retail outlets. Barnes and Noble has partnered with AT&T for 3G service for The Nook which was a no-brainer given the retailer recently made a deal with the carrier to provide free WiFi in its retail outlets. The device will default to the Barnes and Noble online bookstore which features more than 1 million titles for purchases and well another 500,000 free titles. Paid subscriptions to magazines from such publishers as Conde Nast and newspapers, including The New York Times and Wall Street Journal will also be available for The Nook. Barnes and Noble is working with a number of enabling partners including Austin, Texas-based Libre Digital who will power many of B&N’s content offerings.

There’s more: the device will have two screens. A top screen, the reading pane, is an e Ink display and will not come with a web browser (E Ink based-browsers offer a notoriously poor web experience). The bottom TFT screen will be a color display and is powered by the Android O/S which, Barnes and Noble says, allows for optimum navigation and user experience in a small space on a mobile device. . The bottom window will be for shopping but also will support Android apps, however any apps that require web access will have to use WiFi support as 3G service is available only for book-related transactions (which keeps bandwidth costs down for B&N). Barnes and Noble will also facilitate synching of all content between The Nook, smartphone apps and Barnes and Noble’s desktop ereading software.

Anyway you slice Barnes and Noble’s announcement, The Nook is a game changer for the current market and one that will force Amazon’s hand even with Amazon’s recent release of an international Kindle. Regarding loaning ebooks you can lend Nook to Nook, as well as Nook to other Barnes & Noble eReader-enabled devices (such as iPhone, iPod touch, select Motorola and Blackberry smartphones, PC and Mac.) Just as with a physical book, the lender will not have access to the book during the two-week period (or earlier if the person you loaned it to returns it sooner). Banres and Noble plans on fully leveraging its retail presence by offering Nook owners special in-store content such as book previews. By encouraging Nook users to browse and shop with their devices in Barnes and Noble stores, these early adopters become product evangelists (not to mention demonstrators).

By supporting e.pub, the International Digital Publishing Forum’s open ereading format, consumers have a wider range of choices than with Amazon’s Kindle which supports Amazon’s proprietary DRM, .azw. with only the Kindle DX supporting PDF. Consumers also can borrow books from public libraries who offer digital lending programs as the vast majority of libraries support .epub and .pdf with their titles.

Because of its rich set of features, retail merchandizing possibilities and open format support, The Nook not only impacts ereaders in the market (Kindle, Sony Reader) it takes some of the luster off of such pending ereaders as Plastic Logic’s Que and the new wireless iRex. The next move in the ereader space belongs to Amazon. That sound you heard was the air being let out of the Kindle’s tires. Amazon is now forced with the decision to be pragmatic and support the open .epub format or risk being locked out of the market.

19 Comments »

Category: Amazon magazines Microsoft Newspapers Publishing     Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

19 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Tweets that mention Barnes & Noble Introduces The Nook, A Game-Changing Ereader -- Topsy.com   October 20, 2009 at 6:10 pm

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Susan Moore and Allen Weiner, Allen Weiner. Allen Weiner said: B&N announces The Nook http://bit.ly/4jze10 [...]

  • 2 Kristina   October 20, 2009 at 7:42 pm

    Any confirmation on being able to check books out from the public library? I haven’t read anything specific about that yet, and I haven’t been able to open library-sourced pdf or epub files on the BN ereader mac client. The files open just fine with adobe’s digital editions and sony’s ebook library software, though. I’m not so into ownership – all I need is access (if I want to read it again, I’ll just check it out again…), so free library books are a deal breaker for me!

  • 3 New e-reader to carve out Android ‘nook’? @ Technology News   October 21, 2009 at 10:15 am

    [...] nook is a “game-changer”, says Gartner Inc analyst Allen Weiner. The device “should not only throw a scare into Amazon [...]

  • 4 New e-reader carves out Android ‘nook’ | Polbay WebCenter Blog   October 21, 2009 at 2:08 pm

    [...] nook is a “game-changer”, says Gartner Inc analyst Allen Weiner. The device “should not only throw a scare into Amazon [...]

  • 5 Barnes & Noble E-Reader Puts Heat On Amazon - Truth is Treason   October 21, 2009 at 5:27 pm

    [...] changer for the current market and one that will force Amazon’s hand,” Gartner analyst Allen Weiner said in his [...]

  • 6 Kindle Vs Nook – Press love Nook « Kindle Review – Kindle 2 Review, Books   October 21, 2009 at 6:35 pm

    [...] Gartner Inc. analyst Allen Weiner goes as far as to say that the Nook will affect Apple’s iReader/iTablet (really?) – The Nook, its new ereader that should not only throw a scare into Amazon but also put somewhat of a damper on the ereading capabilities of planned tablets/devices from Apple and Microsoft.  [...]

  • 7 RSS For Gadgets » New e-reader carves out Android ‘nook’   October 21, 2009 at 9:33 pm

    [...] nook is a “game-changer”, says Gartner Inc analyst Allen Weiner. The device “should not only throw a scare into Amazon [...]

  • 8 New e-reader carves out Android ‘nook’ | World News   October 22, 2009 at 9:06 am

    [...] nook is a “game-changer”, says Gartner Inc analyst Allen Weiner. The device “should not only throw a scare into Amazon [...]

  • 9 Clay   October 22, 2009 at 5:52 pm

    Intersting all the glowing reviews of the Nook ignoring one vitally important fact. Every book I looked up today was more expensive on B&N as an e-book than it was on Amazon on the Kindle. Nobody likes Amazon, I get that. But don’t ignore the price differences in the rush to pat B&N on the back.

  • 10 Kindle needs to do ePub, says Gartner analyst | TeleRead: Bring the E-Books Home   October 23, 2009 at 5:16 am

    [...] to be pragmatic and support the open .epub format or risk being locked out of the market.” – Allen Weiner, Gartner analyst, reacting to Nook announcement. Digg us. Slashdot us. Facebook us. Twitter us. Share the [...]

  • 11 New e-reader carves out Android ‘nook’ | WeaveTheNet   October 23, 2009 at 8:32 am

    [...] nook is a “game-changer”, says Gartner Inc analyst Allen Weiner. The device “should not only throw a scare into Amazon [...]

  • 12 Kestas   October 24, 2009 at 9:09 am

    The author here obviously forgets that the global market is quite a bit larger (very mildly speaking) than the US market alone. I myself live in Lithuania, EU and was considering Kindle (International) for this Christmas. Never mind there’s no wireless support for my country (there is for 100 other states outside of US, according to Amazon) and never mind Kindle does not support pdf – there are converters online that will do the job nicely. Now, surely, SD card support makes Nook look like a much better choice (especially if you want to use it as an MP3 player and document storage device), but.. I can’t buy it. And people in the UK, Germany, Brazil or France are in the exact same position. So who’s beating who? For me what Nook does, is triggering some kind of a waiting mode.. Surely Amazon will announce something! Besides, what I would really like is the reader that immediately supports any e-book I buy, never mind where. Nook does not support Amazon e-books by default, so if Amazon comes up with something that supports B&N e-books and makes it available to buyers outside the US, I can’t see Nook competing (never mind how many color touch screens it gets. I have doubt about the usefulness of this one already).

  • 13 Ray Taylor   October 30, 2009 at 11:04 pm

    …”The Nook is a game changer for the current market and one that will force Amazon’s hand even with Amazon’s recent release of an international Kindle.”????…geez, they pay you for this kind of “analysis”?…do you even own an e-reader?…anyway, even ignoring that idiotic name — aka the “nookie” reader — the “nook” is NOTHING more than a kindle with a TINY color screen appended to the bottom…a 3.5 inch wide QWERTY keyboard?!…who had that bright idea I wonder?…and people constantly babble about formats…I have a program called “calibre” that batch converts practically every kind of file imaginable into something kindle can interpret…on top of that, I can check books out of my library and keep them FOREVER thanks to another program I have that bypasses whatever time limitation is put on the file…and so far, I’ve got about a hundred GIGABYTES worth of books stored away…they ought to keep me busy for awhile…the bottom line is Kindle does everything I want at a reasonable price and is backed by Amazon — a company that has always provided me with great service…and every other day I read about some new deal they’ve worked out — textbooks, magazines, blogs, international sales…when was the last time Barnes and Noble had a real IDEA?….Barnes & Noble is a DINOSAUR chained to “bricks and mortar” and doomed to forever playing catch-up and forever failing…and “nookie” won’t change that…

  • 14 The great 2009 Barnes & Noble 'nook' e-reader giveaway | martyduren.com   November 9, 2009 at 7:03 am

    [...] & Noble. The soon to be released e-reader is being called a “Kindle killer” and a “game changer”, while Wired.com says, “The Nook is already starting to look like the real internet to the [...]

  • 15 T Southlan   November 18, 2009 at 1:53 pm

    Why would anyone use an e book reader that has a reading “pain”??

    There’s more: the device will have two screens. A top screen, the reading pain, is an e Ink display and will not come with a web browser (E Ink based-browsers offer a notoriously poor web experience)

    Does that mean it hurts to use it???

  • 16 Recent Articles « Libre Digital   November 20, 2009 at 8:06 pm

    [...] 10/19 – Gartner Media Blog – Barnes & Noble Introduces The Nook, A Game-Changing Ereader [...]

  • 17 Rob Quinn   January 16, 2010 at 4:08 am

    @Ray Taylor

    My wife has a Kindle and I recently purchased a Nook for myself. Bottom line is this. The Nook BLOWS the Kindle away. Calibre doesn’t just work for the kindle, it works for most e-readers that I know of. Plus, I’m able to run Android Apps on the Nook. My wife wants to trade me but I’m not having it!

  • 18 PeterY   January 18, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    For anyone considering the nook, please read about my experience.

    First I had to wait about 30 days for my nook to arrive. It worked as advertised at first but began having problems after the third recharge cycle. The nook was stuck in the screen shot mode and would not respond. After holding for 45 minutes, B&N tech support was able to walk me through rebooting the reader. After a full recharge, again the nook would not turn on at all. I tried everything recommended by tech support and nothing worked. How does a new item with a new battery stop working like this? Why doest it take 45 minutes each time you call their help desk?

    I decided to ask for the manager and request a refund. Although they agree to fully refund me the price of the nook, all accessories and membership fee, they would not refund the ebooks I had purchased. I can tell you that the service managers are anxious to get unhappy customers off the phone. I suggested that I receive a store credit to purchase the physical books in their stores which they refused to do. They were just happy to get me off the phone.

    I can’t remember the last time I such a terrible experience with a retailer. They are not prepared to handle the tech issues and not committed to providing good customer service.

    Bottomline is that if you are considering the Nook, buyer beware!

  • 19 A Reader   January 25, 2010 at 1:38 am

    Contrary to your statement in the NY Times, http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-ct-apple25-2010jan25,0,1757881.story, I look forward to buying a tablet computer to read books. I want a backlit display. I want color. I want video. Etc. Stop projecting your personal preferences onto the general public.