eFrenzy: Another eReader Enters the Fray

Barnes & Noble made a big splash yesterday, jumping into the increasingly crowded eReader market with their own offering, the awkwardly named Nook.

If you missed the announcement, we tweeted the highlights:

# RT @ljndawson: #Nook “We like to make bookstores more accessible… B&N is about expanding the market for books.” – Riggio

# RT @ljndawson: #Nook by Barnes & Noble – “The centerpiece of our digital strategy.” Any book, anytime, anywhere, on any device.

# RT @ljndawson: @Gladwell walks across the stage, reading from The Tipping Point. First 10,000 customers who order #Nook get a free copy.

# RT @ljndawson: #Nook will be sold in all 1300 B&Ns (college and retail) in time 4 holidays. flip through an ENTIRE ebook while in store.

# RT @ljndawson: #Nook will support both epub AND fictionwise, along with PDF; 3 formats. Licensed Adobe’s DRM and Mobile SDK.

# RT @ljndawson: Lending feature is 14 days. No limit to # of books you can lend; some are lendable and some aren’t – publisher decides. #Nook

# #Nook: Most eBooks can be lent for up to 14 days… send it to your friend’s reader, cell phone, or computer. http://bit.ly/44t9Fw

# #Nook’s brick-and-mortar B&N features: exclusive content, special discounts, free eBooks. @rww http://bit.ly/2O0L06

(Thanks again to @ljndawson for live-tweeting the event.)

Early response to the Nook has been positive, and the combination of its support of ePub and Adobe PDF, its lending feature, and its unique tie-ins to physical Barnes & Noble locations make for an intriguing alternative to the other eReaders on the market. The NY Times noted the latter as a particularly compelling feature:

In an interview, William Lynch, president of Barnes&Noble.com, said the company would aggressively market the Nook within its bricks and mortar stores. The Nook also has software that will detect when a consumer walks into a store so that it can push out coupons and other promotions like excerpts from forthcoming books or suggestions for new reading. While in stores, Nook owners will be able to read any e-book through streaming software.

Not everyone is enthralled by the Nook, though.  Silicon Alley Insider’s Amol Sarva suggests that it’s “toast“, noting:

You know who the #1 online electronics/gadgets retailer is? Not Barnes & Noble. And Best Buy appears to be giving room to Sony (Mr. #2) this fall. So where is B&N’s gadget going to be? Book stores? Perhaps this sounds logical to you, but we did a little research at Peek on who buys what. And “the literate” is not the target market for e-book readers.

Sarva’s comment raises the question of who is the real audience for eBooks, and whether or not the eReader frenzy is just another case of the tail wagging the dog.

While it may be boom time for eReader manufacturers, publishers who see eBooks as the primary driver of the digital transition are arguably acting like sheep, and missing the bigger picture.

PS: Our free webinar, The Truth About eBooks: Devices, Formats, Pirates (Oh, My!), is today at 1PM EDT.  Kirk Biglione of Oxford Media Works will moderate informative presentations by and a discussion with eBook experts Samir Kakar, CTO, Aptara and Joshua Tallent, owner of eBook Architects and author of Kindle Formatting: The Complete Guide.

The webinar will get past the hype and focus on the key opportunities and challenges presented by eBooks. Register now.

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