Barnes & Noble unveils color Nook e-reader (Update)

Oct 26, 2010 By MAE ANDERSON and SARAH SKIDMORE , AP Retail Writers
Barnes and Noble's new full-color touch screen wireless NOOKcolor is held up during a press preview after it was unveiled at their Union Square store in New York City. The NOOKcolor, which is available for pre-order for $249, will begin shipping around November 19.

Barnes & Noble Inc. is introducing a new Nook e-reader with a color touch screen for $249 as competition in the fast-growing industry heats up ahead of the holidays.

As the first full-color touch electronic reader, the Nookcolor stands apart from black-and-white competitors like Amazon's Kindle. The device can be used to read books, magazines, newspapers and an expanded array of children's titles. It also takes hints from Apple Inc.'s iPad with more games, Web browsing, music streaming and its own application store. Like earlier versions, it runs on Google Inc.'s Android operating system.

Barnes & Noble, which announced the product Tuesday, said it will begin taking orders for the device online and in stores on Wednesday and begins shipping in mid-November.

"I think Barnes & Noble did a pretty good job presenting this device as its own e-reader instead of just a cheaper version of the iPad," said Simba Information analyst Michael Norris. "It is focused on the reading experience."

E-readers are again expected to be popular holiday gifts, but competition has exploded over the past year - especially since Apple released the iPad in April. New models and price cuts for Amazon.com's Kindle and new offerings from Kobo, Sony and others intend to compete with the iPad and other tablet computers.

Nookcolor's features include full-color display on the new 7-inch screen; earlier versions offer color only on the bottom half of a dual-screen. It is lightweight at about a pound, making it easy to grasp while holding a cup of coffee in the other hand, and its battery is estimated to last roughly 8 hours between charges.

Barnes & Noble also is offering more digital books for the Nook, including more than 12,000 new titles for kids.

At $249, the Nookcolor is $50 more expensive than the most expensive Nook on the market. It is also more expensive than Amazon's Kindle, which retails for $139 to $189. But it costs much less than the iPad, which starts at $499, and that could entice consumers.

"What they want to avoid doing is creating product that will make consumers think, 'I'll just spend a bit more and get an iPad,'" Norris said.

James McQuivey, a Forrester Research analyst, said the Nookcolor doesn't threaten the Kindle or iPad or anything else - yet. But it does ensure Barnes & Noble gets a share of the rapidly growing markets for e-readers and tablet devices.

McQuivey was surprised that Barnes & Noble was first to the party with a color e-reader, saying he expected Sony or Amazon would be first. Still, it makes sense for the bookseller, which has had a tough year and is counting on e-books the Nook for revenue growth.

"I can see why they're putting the energy into it, because it might start looking like the knight in shining armor that any challenged retailer would be interested in seeing ride up on a horse," McQuivey said.

Other e-reader makers also are amping up competition. On Monday Borders, which offers several e-readers online and in stores, announced several offers that last the rest of this week. Shoppers can save $30 on some readers and get free shipping with online orders, or they can get a $25 gift card with a Velocity Micro Cruz tablet purchase or free e-books with a Kobo pre-order and 20 percent off e-reader accessories.

Also last week, Amazon said it would let e-book owners start borrowing books later this year, a service similar to one Barnes & Noble offers. And Amazon's Kindle is now available at Best Buy, Target and Walmart, along with Amazon.com. The Nook is also available at Best Buy and Walmart and soon Books-A-Million stores, along with Barnes & Noble stores.

Traditional booksellers like Barnes & Noble and Borders are pinning their hopes on e-readers. Research firm The Yankee Group has forecast 6 million will be sold in 2010 and the market will grow to $2.5 billion by 2013.

Shares of Barnes & Noble fell 19 cents to close at $14.98 but were unchanged in after-hours trading Tuesday.

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PinkElephant
5 / 5 (3) Oct 26, 2010
What they don't mention, is that the display is LCD instead of e-paper. Meaning, the battery life will be much worse (and probably weight/thickness will be much worse too.) And seriously, when is somebody going to come out with an e-reader that actually matches a real book in screen size? (And I'm not talking about purse-sized paperbacks...)
mlange
1 / 5 (1) Oct 26, 2010
B&N may have finally hit one out of the park. Well done.
Ricochet
5 / 5 (1) Oct 26, 2010
There's another aspect that's missed... Visibility in sunlight. One of the major draws of e-paper was that it could be clearly read even in bright sunlight, like regular paper, but now with an LCD display, that would not be the case.
Ricochet
not rated yet Oct 26, 2010
Now, if they could find a way to make a color e-paper out of this stuff http://www.physor...661.html
They'd have a total winner.
DamienS
not rated yet Oct 27, 2010
There's another aspect that's missed... Visibility in sunlight. One of the major draws of e-paper was that it could be clearly read even in bright sunlight, like regular paper, but now with an LCD display, that would not be the case.

That's true, but conversely, e-paper readers aren't so good in dim/dark environments (like real books), and so you'd need auxiliary lighting. Another possible drawback is the screen resolution compared to an e-paper device as the colored pixels would likely be larger in area. Also unknown is what internal format it uses and whether it's compatible with other source content.
Sebastien_Gagnon
not rated yet Oct 27, 2010
And seriously, when is somebody going to come out with an e-reader that actually matches a real book in screen size? (And I'm not talking about purse-sized paperbacks...)


I agree; it's almost like they don't want this kind of product to hit the market. Yes there is the Kindle DX, but it costs the eyes out of your skull. Do you remember the case of the Skiff reader? It was supposed to go out a year ago i think; 9 inchs e-paper screen with pdf support in a design kept simple at a price around 200$...the company was bought before it went out and was simply forgotten
baudrunner
not rated yet Oct 27, 2010
Seems like a desperate bid to divert attention away from those pondering the possibility of hacking into their old Nooks to refit them into generic ipads. http://www.wired....un-apps/
HaveYouConsidered
not rated yet Oct 28, 2010
I read a conventional LCD back lit laptop display for hours a day, and also read an e-paper Kindle for hours on the weekends. The Kindle tech is much easier on the eyes, and I don't end up with the headache the back lit screen often creates. Color would be nice but I'll wait for this to be available on e-paper.