The new NOOK brand e-reader from Barnes & Noble has been getting a very mixed reaction from the marketplace. E-readers and books have been coming and going for a while now, culminating with Amazon’s Kindle 2 reader and the new Apple iBooks. Barnes & Noble are also marketing the new reader as much as possible, and the name makes SEO pretty easy so that they’ve got a pretty good market presence at least in terms of identity, if not as yet with market penetration.
NOOK color has a rather “tablet” look to it, a browser and Wi-Fi. It has a 7 inch touch screen, well within the portable device current chic range. Barnes & Noble are making a point of emphasizing the colour and versatility of the new reader, with some justification. The fact is that consumers have been mightily underwhelmed by the appallingly primitive presentation of earlier e-readers, which had, and to some extent still have, all the classic elegance of a cheap 1980s digital watch.
This absolutely abysmal standard of presentation has left the market wide open to anything which looks like it’s even had the slightest acquaintanceship with modern media. Even Kindle 2 is stunningly drab, like a monument to uninteresting, not to say borderline insulting, aesthetic values. The general feeling in the market is that the readers have already had to suffer enough by being inflicted with the current bestsellers without having to look at an unspeakably boring, unimaginative mass of text.
Amazon is believed to be bringing a colour version of Kindle onto the market soon, but NOOKcolor can reasonably claim to be an effective commercial competitor. NOOKcolor brings with it a large range of Barnes & Noble products, including The New York Times bestseller list, and this could reasonably be considered to be a perhaps overdue move by Barnes & Noble into a full digital range spectrum. The new e-reader is also a lot cheaper than iPad, which may get NOOKcolor a respectable market share, particularly during a major recession.
Taking on iPad and Kindle at their own games could be seen to be a pretty daunting challenge, but the basic plotline is that a good all round e-reader could well find a niche. Kindle, for example, may be a market darling of the moment, but the fact is that Amazon blundered on regardless until Kindle 2 finally struck paydirt.
Given that Amazon on an Apple between them are arguably the two largest producers of this type of product in the world, and that their performance until very recently been a lot less than stellar, NOOKcolor, which is a pretty unpretentious collection of core technologies, has a good chance of becoming a plausible alternative.
Amazon and Apple have both dropped the ball repeatedly in bringing e-readers on the market. It has taken years to produce something which is basically a screen with text on it, a truly dismal performance even by the eternally fascinating standards of American industry. NOOKcolor looks like it’ll be around and functional to take advantage of any further mistakes.
Let’s get this straight – Readers want something that works and lets them buy and read all the books they want. Anything else is irrelevant. Nobody cares about gadgets, just provide a good working platform.