Christmas has come early for Barnes and Noble. The book store’s Nook e-reader is in such hot demand that Barnes and Noble is already announcing production delays before it has even shipped the first device. The e-reader market has gotten crowded lately, but it is the Nook that seems to pose the biggest threat so far to the dominance of Amazon’s Kindle.
A recent Forrester Group analysis stated “This holiday season, e-readers will be one category that’s a breakout success. Lower prices, more content, better distribution, and lots of media hype are contributing to faster-than-expected adoption of e-reader devices in 2009.”
Forrester predicts that there will be nearly 1 million e-reader devices sold just during the holiday season, bringing the total for 2009 to somewhere around 3 million eReaders. It also predicts that the market will double in 2010. The Nook is poised to go head-to-head with the Kindle.
The Nook is impressive on paper. It is built on the seemingly ubiquitous Google Android operating system, has built-in wi-fi, and comes with a split screen providing a Kindle-like black and white display for most of the screen real estate, with a smaller, color screen at the bottom that is reminiscent of the iPhone display. Barnes and Noble is offering all of this, plus access to its extensive library of titles, at the same cost as the $259 Kindle.
It has been a breakout year for the e-reader. The Kindle has been around for awhile and has enjoyed reasonable success, but never enough to guarantee the survival of the niche devices. While there are still no guarantees, especially with Google and Microsoft looking to replace niche devices with simple browser-based alternatives, the addition of players like Sony, Asus, and Barnes and Noble pretty much ensures that the concept of electronic books is here to stay.
The Nook has been challenged recently in a lawsuit. Spring Design, which announced its eerily similar device, the Alex e-reader, the day before Barnes and Noble unveiled the Nook, claims that Barnes and Noble stole the concept for the device from it. That battle is still ongoing.
Amazon is being challenged on multiple fronts and it is going to have to be on top of its game to carve out its share of the holiday spoils. It recently announced same day shipping in some markets, and it has engaged in a no-holds-barred price war for certain books and DVD’s against Walmart and Target. Combined with the intense competition against the Kindle, Amazon seems to be in for a rough battle this holiday season.
I have never really been interested in a Kindle at all. I could never justify why I would spend so much money on a device to read books. Even with discounts on e-reader versions of books it would take like 30 or 40 book purchases before I could break even on my investment. I am starting to understand some of the other advantages now though and the lower prices for the devices in general have caught my attention.
I still don’t want a Kindle, but I am asking Santa for a Nook and may soon join the e-reader revolution after all–that is if Nook production can keep up with demand.
[Tony Bradley tweets as @PCSecurityNews, and can be contacted at his Facebook page.]