Technology Left Behind -- Barnes and Noble Carves a nook in the eReader Market
Technolog y Left B ehind -- Barnes and Noble Car ves a nook in the eReader Market
Cris Ferguson 0 1
0 Furman University
1 Column Editor: Cris Ferguson, Electronic Resources/Serials Librarian, James B. Duke Library, Furman University , 3300 Poinsett Highway, Greenville, SC 29613; Phone: 864-294-2713
Technology Left Behind — Barnes and Noble
Carves a nook in the eReader Market
Ounveiled nook, its response to the
n October 20, 2009, Barnes & Noble
Kindle and other eBook reading
devices. B&N’s foray into the eBook market,
which includes the purchase of the eBookstore
Fictionwise in March 2009, is part of the
company’s overall strategy to keep it
competitive in the book selling industry, both print and
electronic. While the device is often referred
to as “the Nook,” Barnes & Noble
specifically uses a lowercase “n” when marketing
the device and does not use the article “the”
to refer to nook.
In terms of their basic functionalities, nook
and the Kindle are quite similar. Both have
a six-inch E-Ink display and weigh less than
a pound. (nook weighs about an ounce more
than the Kindle.) They each have 2GB of
built-in memory, carrying up to 1500 eBooks.
Both have built-in dictionaries and permit
users to bookmark pages and make notes.
Overall, nook is quite comparable in
dimension and capabilites to the Kindle.
However, there are notable differences
that make nook stand out from the crowd
to some degree. Instead of a keyboard,
nook features a small, full-color, back-lit
touchscreen. Located just below the E-Ink
display, the touchscreen, which was designed
with navigation in mind, allows users to scroll
through books and magazines by title or by
cover art. Essentially occupying the same
piece of real estate that the Kindle’s keyboard
does, nook’s touchscreen can also be used as
a virtual keyboard for searching purposes.
One notable disadvantage to the touchscreen
is its drain on nook’s battery. Perhaps to help
compensate for this, nook has a replaceable
battery, which the Kindle does not.
According to the Barnes & Noble
Website, in addition to the 2GB of internal
memory, nook offers expandable storage,
accommodating a 16-GB microSD card. The
device can also be used as an MP3 player
for music or audio books, holding up to 26
hours of audio.
There are certainly features that the Kindle
offers that nook does not. For example, the
Kindle accepts Word files and includes a
rudimentary Web browser, neither of which
is available on nook.
Like the Kindle, nook uses AT&T
3G wireless. Barnes & Noble also
makes free Wi-Fi available within
its stores. The Wi-Fi connection
within B&N stores enables
nook customers to
“completely browse any eBook
B&N is carrying while also
offering exclusive content to
nook users.” (Milliot)
Rik Fairlie recently conducted a
head-tohead comparison of the three major eBook
readers on the market: nook, Kindle and
Sony Reader. Fairlie’s review, which can be
found in the January / February 2010 issue of
Money, names nook as its top pick. Reasons
for this decision include the number of titles
available, both paid and freely available, and
the navigation that is facilitated by the LCD
As the review points out, Barnes & Noble
has a much larger library of eBooks available
for purchase and access, over one million titles
compared to Amazon’s almost 400,000. In
addition, nook can display the EPUB format,
enabling users to download titles from Google
and from their public library. Kindle does not
support the EPUB format at this time,
meaning that far fewer free eBooks are accessible
to Kindle users.
Another notable difference between the
Kindle and nook is the capability to lend out
eBook content. Through its LendMe program,
Barnes & Noble allows nook owners to
lend eBook content to anyone with a nook,
PC, Mac, iPhone, or other smartphone. The
recipient need only have the B&N reader
installed on his or her device.
The Barnes & Noble eReader, which is
freely available via the B&N Website, is a
proprietary application that permits users to
read Barnes & Noble eBooks on devices such
as the ones mentioned above.
It must be noted that the LendMe feature
has some pretty significant limitations. First,
not all titles are available through the
program. Publishers may choose to opt out of
LendMe, making their content unavailable for
lending. In addition, each eBook may only be
lent out for 14 days, during which time it is not
available to the lender. Lastly, an eBook may
only be lent out only once. If the recipient
isn’t able to read the book completely during
the 14 day loan period, the eBook cannot be
lent to them, or anyone else, again.
nook and all its features can be yours for
the price of $259, which is, not coincidentally,
the exact price of the Kindle2. Pricing for the
eBooks themselves are also quite
similar. Both Amazon and Barnes &
Noble charge $9.99 for most
nook officially began
shipping at the
beginning of December, and
there were reports of
some shipping delays
before the holidays.
Those problems appear
to have been rectified at
this point. A nook ordered
on February 3, 2010 was estimated to arrive
on February 12, 2010 with free shipping.
Barnes & Noble is taking great
advantage of its retail locations to market nook,
offering live in-store demonstrations of the
device. B&N superstores are all supposed
to have large nook displays, as well as 17 of
B&N’s college bookstores. Having a
dedicated retail presence gives Barnes & Noble
a distinct advantage over its competitors in
the e-reader device market. Customers can
explore the device and put it through its paces
before purchasing, something that is difficult
to do with the Kindle unless you know
someone who owns one. Unfortunately, nook is
not actually available for sale in B&N stores.
A B&N bookseller will, if you ask, order the
device for you through the B&N Website and
have it shipped to your house, but you cannot
leave the store with device in hand.
I visited my local B&N to check out nook
for myself. At my B&N, the nook display
featured prominently at the store’s customer
service desk. Two nooks, firmly anchored to
the counter via secure cables, were available
for testing, and big light-up signs proudly
proclaimed nook’s arrival. Overall, I found
the device to be remarkably similar to the
Kindles my library has purchased. However,
I must express my preference for nook. I was
completely won over by the touchscreen and
the navigational capabilities it offered.
It should be noted that the battle for a
share of the eBook reader market is far from
over. While this column was in progress, a
new player entered the arena with the release
of iPad. Unveiled on January 27, 2010,
Apple’s much anticipated tablet device is set
to start shipping in April 2010. The iBook
application will enable users to browse the
iBook store, which boasts content from five
major publishers. Pricing will start at $499
for a 16 GB model. More than just an
eBook reader and MP3 player, the iPad could
certainly give both the Kindle and nook a
run for their money.
A consortial-level project team (or
teams) could ameliorate this. With a
number of libraries in need of project
work, a team of this nature could be
kept busy full-time, rotating its services
among members. No individual library
would bear the cost of retaining such
a staff full-time, but all would be able
to draw upon its capacity as needed.
A similar approach could be used to
amortize curation, preservation, and
digitization expertise and capacity
across the entire shared collection.
Many libraries and consortia, of course,
have already recognized and seized these
• The University of California’s Shared
Cataloging Program and California
Digital Library have distributed
highlevel skills across the entire UC system.
Its Next Generation Technical Services
initiative seeks to bring those operations
to the UC network level.
• Shared offsite storage facilities like
Harvard/MIT’s, Colorado PASCAL
and a host of others have reduced costs
and collection redundancies.
• In Florida, both FCLA and CCLA provide
centralized automation support for most of
the academic libraries in the state.
• Programs such as Orbis Cascade’s
Distributed Print Repository have enabled
libraries to extend their space while
providing a secure archiving solution for
• The CIC’s Hathi Trust has pioneered
secure digital archiving for millions of
• The CONSORT libraries in Ohio have
drastically reduced the overlap in
tangible Government Documents in their
• The Colorado Alliance has implemented
a large-scale digitization program for
• Colby, Bates, and Bowdoin Colleges
have initiated a fully shared approval
plan, in which weekly shipments
alternate among all three campuses.
• Columbia and Cornell have begun to
formally explore closer collaboration
between their technical services operations,
in a pilot program known as 2CUL.
This list merely scratches the surface. There
are hundreds of similar endeavors that
demonstrate the actual and potential benefits of
groundbased collaboration within a region. (We’ll
reserve the drawbacks for another, much more
entertaining article.) But there is much more
to be done, and well-managed consortia are the
organizations best positioned to do it. No
matter how fully the library in the cloud is realized,
efficient exchange of material, equipment and
staff will continue to require these libraries on the
ground. And yea, verily, sharing shall sweep the
regions…except for the region of my stuff.
from page 86
didn’t spend more than one night in any single
building for fear of assassination. We talked
about the events of China during the preceding
30 plus years. I asked him if he thought China
might return to the chaos of the past. He said
thoughtfully, “I don’t think so, I hope not.”
It is this context that I think the whole
episode of Google and its experience with China’s
government has to be viewed. China has
experienced such sorrow and pain due to ideology,
and so the current government, which lacks any
ideology except a belief in the linkage between
“peace” and “prosperity,” refuses to allow any
opposition to its own power — which situation
they define as “chaos.” So, in library land, as
long as you don’t want to buy and circulate
books which challenge the Government, you
are free to do what you want.
This is much better than during the
Cultural Revolution when all books except those
applauding Mao were forbidden, when all
music and drama except for a relatively small
selection of Communist hymns and plays
Technology Left Behind
from page 81
could be sung, listened to, or performed, when
lady librarians couldn’t wear nice clothes or
use make-up, when opinions could not be
expressed for fear of being exposed by your
friends or family members when under pressure
to give up some tidbit of counter revolutionary
behavior. Yet, I hope that China will soon feel
sufficiently confident of itself that the people
will voluntarily choose to follow the policies
of the Government and that opposing views
can be tolerated without fear that they will be
adopted by many other people. China is such
a beautiful country, its people are so
wonderfully resourceful, its culture is so remarkable,
and the amount of prosperity that has been
achieved in such a short period of time is so
amazing that it deserves to be respected — but
Baig , Edward C. “ Wrinkles mar arrival of Barnes & Noble's Nook .” USA Today. ( 12 /10/2009): Money section , 05b .
Carnoy , David. “Is Barnes & Noble's Nook a Kindle Killer?” in Crave . CNET News. (October 20 , 2009 ). http://news.cnet.com/8301- 17938_ 105 - 10379125 -1.html
Carr , David. “To Deliver, iPad Needs Media Deal.” New York Times. (January 31 , 2010 ). http://www.nytimes.com/ 2010 /02/01/ business/media/01carr.html Fairlie, Rik. “ How the E-Readers Stack continued on page 85 Up.” Money 39 , issue 1 (January / February 2010 ): 68 .
Jaroslovsky , Rich. “Double Vision.” BusinessWeek is. 4160 ( December 21, 2009 ): 87 - 88 .
Milliot , Jim. “Barnes & Noble Touts Three-Prong Approach .” Publisher's Weekly 256 , no. 44 ( November 2 , 2009 ): 4 - 5 .
Milliot , Jim. “B& N Steps Up : the Nook Arrives.” Publisher's Weekly 256 , no. 43 (October 26 , 2009 ): 6 .
Endnotes 1 . Perez , Juan Carlos (5 February , 2010 ). After China pull-out bluster, will Google backtrack? Computerworld. Downloaded 6 February 2010 . http://www.computerworld. com/s/article/9152978/After_China_pull_ out_bluster_.
Newman , Jared. “Barnes & Noble's Nook: More Than the Basics .” PCWorld (January 2010 ): 20 .
Reid , Calvin and Josh Hadro . “ Nook from B&N Pushes E-reader Market Forward” in Infotech. Library Journal (November 15 , 2009 ): 15 .
Shah , Agam. “ It's Official: Jobs Announces Apple's iPad.” PCWorld.com . (January 27 , 2010 ). http://www.pcworld.com/ article/187901/its_official_jobs_announces_ apples_ipad.html