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The Nook. No, it’s not new slang for something.

October 20th, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

Get your minds out that gutter.

Just as I write up a post lamenting the poor state of tech, a zinger comes from left field.  Barnes and Noble, of all companies, announces the Nook, their competitor to the Kindle.

nook(image courtesy Gizmodo).  I’ve long been fascinated by the Kindle (lusted after one, actually) but could never justify the expense.  Now that the price has dropped, I was going to start hinting that a Kindle would make daddy very happy around the holidays.  But looking over the Nook, I’m thinking that maybe I want one of these instead.

The great thing about the Nook (man I love saying that name) is that it one-ups the Kindle in many ways.  First, it uses AT&T’s network rather than Sprint’s.  That could be a good or a bad, depending on your coverage, but I’ve got no complaints about AT&T coverage in Philly so it’s a net plus.  Second, it has two screens (and we all know two is better than one right?).  The smaller screen allows for full color browsing of book covers cause, as we all know to our secret shame, we DO judge books by their covers.  Heck, my kids are baldfaced honest about it.  If I offer them a book with a dull jacket, they won’t read it until I bludgeon them repeatedly.  And that’s bad for their future development.

The device also has WiFi, which is important because you can get free WiFi access at any B&N you bring this little honey into.  You can customize it to display pictures and it has an MP3 player.  A built-in mono speaker allows you to listen to podcasts and audiobooks you download over the ether.  Very cool.

Most importantly, you can SHARE YOUR BOOKS.  An ebook can be lent for up to 14 days at a time to (intriguingly) other electronic devices, not just other Nooks.  B&N already has an iPhone app – it should be possible to let your Apple fanboys borrow the newest book slamming/worshipping Steve Jobs.  It also opens up the intriguing possibility that online lending libraries could start up where you pay an annual membership for access to a vast library of e-books.  I would totally be up for that since I don’t tend to re-read a lot of books.

Dayum, B&N – good on ya for a home run on your first at-bat.  If they don’t mis-manage the pricing of ebooks, they may have a Kindle-killer here.

UPDATE:  I can’t find it again but I could have sworn that I saw something about the Nook being able to read any e-book via WiFi when you’re in a B&N.  If this means what I hope it means, it completely justifies the in-store experience of a B&N vs. the cloud and really shows that they are thinking about how to leverage their physical footprint.  It makes total sense – if I can walk into a B&N and read any book I find on the shelf for as long as I’m there, then why can’t I do the same with my Nook e-book reader?  It’s a competitive advantage that Amazon can’t duplicate.  I really hope this is true.

UPDATE 2:  Haha!  I was right.  Core77 confirms the ability to browse e-books while you’re in a B&N.  Brilliant!

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