Dispatches from the Digital Revolution

An ereader for every pocket? Let the games begin.

The new Nook tablet

From today, 11/7/11

Barnes & Noble announced their response to Kindle Fire this morning: the new Nook Tablet, priced at $249, which (of course) meant revamped prices on Nook and Nook Color. B&N says the tablet is better than Kindle Fire–I guess it’ll be up to consumers to decide who’s right and who’s left when the first round Fire actually ships later this month.

In the meantime, though, I wonder just what the Nook Tablet has on Kindle Fire. It still costs $50 more–is there anything more they’re offering that could justify this, or are they still relying on the fact that Nook is consistently better reviewed than other ereading devices?

At 8.1″ tall x 5″ wide x .48″ deep, it’s scarcely bigger than Fire, which measures 7.5″ x 4.7″ x .45″. Their display screens are both 7″, still smaller than iPad. Both offer books, magazines, streaming video, music, email programs, and Internet browsing. But the difference is in Nook’s memory–16 GB of storage to Fire’s 8 GB internal (of which 6 is good for user content). The battery is also supposed to last longer, and charges faster than Fire’s. (Anyone else humming “Anything You Can Do (I Can Do Better)” yet?)

After my last post, I couldn’t have hoped for better timing. Though, as I said, Nook Tablet costs $50 more than Fire, Nook Color is now $199–same as Fire–and good ol’ Nook is $99–cheaper than you’d pay for the basic Kindle without ads.

I hear $249. I hear $199. I hear $108. I hear $99. And from Apple’s quarter, I hear crickets. Can I get $399? Please? Apple? Hellooooo?

This looks like the start of what could be a glorious pricing war, which, as we all know, Amazon usually wins. If Nook proves to be the better tablet, well, Fire will still cost less–Amazon has never been scared of losing profit to gain sales, and it hasn’t yet appeared to hurt the business overall, which just keeps on growing.

While I, like many bibliophiles, still tend to mistrust digital (YOU’RE maybe KILLING PRINT, you maybe-bastard!), I remain optimistic that overall, digital does represent a kind of glowing bastion of literacy and learning overall. Since more and more bookstores are closing, where are people buying books? How are they hearing about them?  I’m not convinced digital has acceptable answers to these questions–yet. But ereaders maybe could put more books into more hands, more learning into more brains (or maybe we’ll all just give up and start reading exclusively bad genre fiction and self-help). In which case I, as a literacy advocate, have to be all for them. And this new pricing battle is just the beginning of ereaders being affordable for everyone.


This entry was posted on November 7, 2011 by in Business, News, Opinion, Technology and tagged , , , .

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