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 But Apple‘s iPad has pretty much obliterated them in mindshare, making them look outdated and overpriced.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.