Kindle and Nook to Go Retail: Can It Save Them From the iPad?


It's a hard time to be a traditional e-book reader (if any device that is two years old can really be "traditional"). Both Amazon's Kindle and Barnes & Noble's Nook gathered plenty of their own buzz, and by all accounts Amazon is quite pleased with the Kindle's sales. But Apple's iPad has pretty much obliterated them in mindshare, making them look outdated and overpriced.

It's not entirely fair—after all, the e-ink readers both sport huge libraries (Amazon has about 450,000 titles, Barnes & Noble about 700,000, compared to the iBookstore's 60,000), both are lightweight, have battery life that's measured in weeks, not days, and both have that easy-on-the-eyes, readable-in-sunlight e-ink screen. But the iPad has systematically ruined a few of those oh-so-nice talking points post-release: Its battery life, while not exactly in the two week range, is absurdly long for a gadget of its type. And every review has noted that staring at a screen is, well, what we do all the time. Nobody's reported much eyestrain at all, really.

The Nook and Kindle have to make some change if they're going to retain sales. They'll likely both undergo price cuts, and now word has leaked that both will be available in a major retail store. Engadget reports that the Nook will be available at Best Buy (alongside the iPad), and the Kindle will park at Target. That's a good first step—once more people can see and feel those e-book readers, they stand a better chance. But don't be surprised if you see a price cut sometime soon as well.

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  • Jordan Lund

    I never bought the eyestrain argument from e-Ink fans. I look at an LCD screen all day, every day and have done so for years without issue.

    Nobody who reads newspaper or magazine content wants to read things in black and white. Color printing was invented ages ago. The reason the Kindle and Nook look like yesterdays technology is because black and white is old news.

    If someone put forward the idea that "well, black and white TV is easier to see in sunlight" the obvious follow-up is "who watches television outside?" The same can be said of devices like this.

  • George Kyaw Naing

    Will Amazon add new services and functionalities to its offering?
    What about the 2-pizza teams in Amazon that Jeff Bezos is so fond of?
    Can they come up with new apps and features for Kindle?

    Unless, just changing the distribution channel may not amount to much.


  • Jeffrey Tang

    I don't think anyone's arguing that the iPad's screen is inferior to the Kindle's in a general sense. However, e-ink is markedly better for reading anywhere but indoors under artificial lighting (it may even be better for reading under those conditions). Furthermore, the iPad is significantly heavier than the Kindle - an important factor when you're holding something up to read for long periods of time. And, as you point out, the number of books available on the Kindle dwarfs the selection available in the iBookstore.

    Bottom line: the Kindle is far better as an e-reader than the iPad. Far, far better. The question isn't whether or not the Kindle can survive the iPad itself - it's whether or not it can survive the iPad's hype. If people continue to believe (without justification) that the iPad is somehow the messiah of devices and the soon-to-be-savior of all things print, then the prophecy may become self-fulfilling.