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Dispatches from the Digital Revolution

The mysterious specter that is Nook Audio

“Let him not quit his belief that a popgun is a popgun, though the ancient and honorable of the earth affirm it to be the crack of doom.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

With the digital revolution wreaking havoc on the world of publishing, it’s difficult to distinguish popgun from cannon. Every little move made by Amazon, Apple, Google, and Barnes & Noble takes on the aura of a chess move. Every little move seems to mean something.

Prime example being the enigmatic appearance of the NOOK Audio IE250 and NOOK Audio OE250 on the Barnes & Noble website on April 1, 2012 (in name alone), with photos appearing some weeks later.

Source: Barnesandnoble.com

Source: Barnesandnoble.com

What to make of this? Audio headphones and earbuds branded with the NOOK name? Engadget reached out to Barnes & Noble for clarification, but was met with a (predictable) “no comment” response. The rumor mill is abuzz with speculation.

Let’s consider the possibilities here.

Popgun: There is nothing behind it. Once they’re on the market, NOOK Audio products will simply serve as branded accessories.

Cannon: Structure and content overhaul. Barnes & Noble is forging ahead in creating its own digital ecosystem à la Amazon. Perhaps the company is constructing a new framework that will showcase and promote enhanced ebooks as a genre.

The cannon concept sounds pretty attractive—even if it doesn’t pan out in that direction. While enhanced ebooks appeared on the scene with less flamboyance than other media enhancements (3D movies, for example), there is still significant room for market outreach on the part of influential vendors.

But I suppose they’re biding their time…

Once standard, cost-efficient ereaders acquire the technological capabilities of current iPads (will it ever happen?), and once they become as ubiquitous as iPods, we might see enhanced ebooks finally taking center stage.

2 comments on “The mysterious specter that is Nook Audio

  1. Leah Thompson
    April 25, 2012

    I’m feeling the same way about the Nook Glow– is it just flash, or is it substantive development? It’s like the cell phone wars that were going on, with the RAZR and Chocolate and all the fancy phones that were running around before smartphones were the cool thing: sure, new models were different on the surface, but the user experience never seemed appreciably different.

  2. Jenka Eusebio
    April 29, 2012

    Thanks for the comment! The more I thought about it, the more I backed down on the idea of substantive development -at least for now. A kitchen conversation with my musician housemate led me to another possibility: marketing. For example, what is one of the main ways we identify an Apple product? Those ubiquitous white earbuds!! It was something of a ‘Eureka!’ moment for me since I never really thought about it before. If a person were to listen to an enhanced ebook on their Nook, the most natural thing to do would be to use the iPod earbuds. Visually, from a distance, “Apple Marketing Magic” would happen. The Nook would be mistaken for an iPad. My new theory is that Nook Audio is stepping up as a competitor to Apple’s visibility.

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This entry was posted on April 25, 2012 by in Business, Technology and tagged , , .

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