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On this blog we will track down the latest Amazon Kindle news. We will keep you up to date with whats hot in the bestsellers section, including books, ebooks and blogs... and we will also bring you great Kindle3 tips and tricks along with reviews for the latest KindleDX accessories.

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October 2014
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Nook Simple Touch and Color go on sale for Mother’s Day

The ranks are closing in on Amazon and the Kindle.  Barnes & Noble is currently holding a Mother”s Day Sale on the Nook Simple Touch basic model, and the Nook Color.  This is apparently a push on its the less popular models.  The sale ends May 12.

Most e-reader fans are more intrigued by the new Nook GlowLight and the Nook Tablet.  The GlowLight includes a cool, more readable light that enables readers to still read at night comfortably.  It doesn’t cause eye strain or suck up battery life like the LCD tablets do.

So the sale brings the Nook Simple Touch down to $79, and the Nook Color down to $149.  Both $20 less than they are normally.

I don’t really see these models as a huge threat to their Kindle counterparts, however, I do think that the Nook Simple Touch at $79 is a better deal than the $79 Kindle, which is not touch screen.

The Kindle Fire is also in more direct competition with the Nook Tablet than the Nook Color.  Refurbished Kindle Fires go for $139 occasionally.  These offers go quickly, so you have to watch closely, or you’ll miss them.

So, in short, if you’re looking for a bargain and a good gift idea for Mother’s Day, this is a good option to consider.

Barnes & Noble has really ramped up the competition with a backing from Microsoft and with the introduction of a Nook with a built in light.  So, it will be interesting to see how Amazon responds.

The leapfrogging between Amazon and its competitors is likely to happen again this year.  Usually the Kindle competitors start the new trend of the year, and Amazon picks up on it, and makes an even better product with it.  Amazon will come up with its own GlowLight Kindle, and I’m sure this year’s refresh of the whole Kindle line up will go at the price to beat.

 

Amazon Kindle Faces Big Trouble as Microsoft Backs Nook Line

Barnes & Noble has finally begun to spin off their Nook brand into its own subsidiary company and Microsoft has jumped at the opportunity to be a major part of that effort.  According to an announcement released jointly this Monday, the software giant will be investing $300 Million into the Nook business thereby acquiring 17.6% equity stake.  This could be bad news for Amazon’s Kindle line, which is already facing some of its toughest competition to date in the realm of eReading thanks to the new Nook Simple Touch w/ GlowLight.

Making things even more pleasant for B&N, this arrangement will also involve the settlement of Microsoft’s ongoing patent litigation the bookseller over certain aspects of the Nook’s design.  Microsoft will now be picking up royalties for all Nook products, but in the end this may result in significant savings compared to the cost of legal defense.  Whether or not that is the case, and admittedly I’m not a lawyer so it is purely speculative, this partnership will open up some major new opportunities for advancing the Nook.

In the immediate future we can expect a Nook app for Windows 8.  This will be an important development for both companies as Microsoft is betting big on the potential for tablets using their new OS while Barnes & Noble will need to be ready for the next major push in operating systems.  The nature of the Metro UI that Windows 8 (and its ARM compatible offshoot Windows RT) uses will actually create an even better reading experience than existing Windows reading apps if done right.

More long-term, Microsoft has already alluded to an interest in using Windows 8 to gain a foothold in the eReader market.  While this was mostly an offhanded remark at a recent event, and could therefore have been meant as a subtle emphasis on how adaptable their new operating system is, buying into as big a player in eReading as the Barnes & Noble Nook line is a fair indication that something more serious is going on.

In the face of this, Amazon has to be wondering what to do next with the Kindle line.  While the Kindle Fire is coming out on top of every other Android tablet on the market today, their Android fork might not quite compare to a properly configured Windows 8 installation powering the next Nook Tablet.  Nothing stops Amazon from following suit and licensing the new OS themselves, of course, but this would likely lose them the ability to completely control the user experience enjoyed under the existing system.  Microsoft will certainly allow locked-down version of their software to circulate, but fragmenting the Metro UI is not going to happen.

This might end up being the first step in a major Android vs Windows 8 fight.  The Kindle Fire holds the majority of non-iPad tablet users, but if a new Nook offered superior hardware and an operating system that shines when compared to Android without increasing the price significantly then the tables could turn.  Amazon still has their content distribution and the tight integration that gives them the edge, but the next Kindle Fire might need to be especially impressive to keep consumer interest going.

Competition mounts with the speculation of a light enabled Kindle

It was announced last week that Amazon is already working on adding a light into its next generation Kindle.  Not having a built in light has been one of the big drawbacks for e-ink e-readers.  Easy to read in sunlight?  Awesome!  But what about at night in bed or on a long car ride?

The speculation is that the lighting will be a softer “frontlit” type of lighting.  It is designed to be easier on the eyes than its LCD counterparts.  That way the ligthing will still fulfill the promise of longer battery life and comfortable reading.

Usually when one e-reader company gets a bright idea, the others quickly follow suit.  Last year’s big thing was touchscreen e-ink.  There are already posts floating around that hint on a Nook counterpart to the new lighted Kindle.

This year’s big e-ink feature is shaping up to be light.  Will next year’s be color?  Not sure if color e-ink will be ready for a debut that soon, but you never know.  Technology seems to be evolving faster and faster with each passing year.

When the lighted Kindle comes out, the competition will not only be among the major e-readers, but within Amazon’s product line itself.

It probably won’t even matter in the long run, but by including a built in light, Amazon will be killing off Kindle light accessories and Amazon’s own Kindle Lighted Cover.  As I said, this matter will probably be pretty insignificant in the scheme of the things because for awhile yet, there will still be owners of the older models.  Then, eventually the accessories will be redesigned to suit the needs of the newer Kindle generations.

So, e-ink devices have not succombed to tablets yet.  They still have some major potential that can help them stay in the game.

 

Last Minute iPad 3 vs Kindle Fire Thoughts

I am writing this on the eve of the launch of the next generation iPad. So speculations on what new features the iPad 3 will offer  and what it means for tablet competition is definitely on my mind.  As anyone who keeps up with tech news knows, the rumors get pretty wild in the days leading up to big announcements like these.

Aside from the new launch, there are two speculations that might have a more direct implication for the Kindle Fire.  The first is the possibility of a 7.85 inch iPad Mini.  Honestly, I can’t really see this fitting into the scope of Apple’s products.  I could be wrong, but right now, there is a big enough gulf between the iPad 2 and the iPhone that consumers can reconcile having both.  They serve different functions.

An iPad Mini would blur the lines a bit and give consumers less of a reason to have both.  So it would cause internal competition for Apple.  However, it would add some worthy competition to the smaller tablet market.

The other option is a budget version of the iPad 2.  This assumption seems more viable because Apple has done this in the past with the iPhone, and has had good success with it.  This would be an 8GB version as opposed to 16 or 32GB.

It depends on how much cheaper the iPad 2  is, but this is what could really give the Kindle Fire a run for its money.  Right now, Amazon’s bestselling tablet’s biggest asset is that it packs a lot of features for a rock bottom price.  Competitors certainly recognize that.  Just look at the recent price drop on the Nook Tablet.

In the next few years, I would love to see a tablet emerge that has computing power comparable to the PC.  Apple has that ability to to that with the iPad, but isn’t quite there yet.  That leaves room for the smaller tablets to serve consumers who want something more portable, inexpensive and multipurpose without too much processing power.

So, I don’t really think the iPad 3 will have too much effect on the Kindle Fire competition wise.  It serves a different market.  The thing to watch will be the introduction of either a budget iPad or a less probable iPad Mini.  So, all we can do at this point is sit back and see what happens.

 

 

Amazon to Sell E-Books Non Exclusively

Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) has sold e-books in the Kindle Store using its own formatting style ever since the Kindle was introduced in 2007.

That will change next year when a new program is launched called Amazon Lives.  This program will debut with biographies that will be available in multiple formats as well as places outside of the Kindle Store.

Amazon has been stepping out into a lot of new markets lately.  The online retailer is planning to open a boutique in Seattle to sell the Kindle and other products.  The company that started the online buying revolution will now have a tangible, brick and mortar presence.

We’ve also seen Amazon challenge Netflix with free movie streaming for Prime members, and take a stab at Apple’s iPad consumer market with the Kindle Fire.

Now with Amazon Lives, the line blurs as Kindle e-books lose their exclusive formatting identity.  Amazon Lives is just starting out with biographies, but I doubt it will take too long to branch out into other genres.  Barnes & Noble and Books a Million recently stated that they would not sell Amazon books in their stores, but the launch of this new program might affect that sales strategy.

The technology market in general involves a lot of cat and mouse type competition.  I’ve seen this ramp up a lot with the entrance of e-readers and tablets.  Competition is healthy in most respects because it makes the products better.  Take the Kindle Touch for example.  This version followed suit after other e-readers started adopting touch screen technology.  However, if a company wants to try to take over so many different areas of the market, then they risk losing quality in their products.

So my hope is that Kindle e-books will maintain their good reputation while serving the broadest audience possible as they venture into the new realm of non exclusivity.

Sony to Launch a Foldable Tablet Later this Year

The Sony Reader was the first to get touch screen technology.  It set off a big touch screen craze that included all of the major e-readers: Kindle, Nook, and Kobo.  The Kindle Touch in turn became Amazon’s bestselling e-ink Kindle.

So, Sony has a some good ideas going as far as e-readers go. I happened upon an article about a foldable tablet that the company is currently preparing for release next week.

The new tablet, called the Tablet P, will have dual screens, one on each side of the foldable hinges.  My biggest question in regards to the screens is how they will mesh together for the display.  Will they show separate content?  Do they somehow come together to create a larger display?

The odd thing is that the Tablet P will feature last year’s Android operating system, Honeycomb.  That will be a big drawback right there.

By making this table foldable, it is protecting the screen from scratches and dings, so that is a big plus.   Although Apple was onto something when it created a smart cover to protect the iPad’s screen .  Sony’s new tablet also includes a camera, which is not currently available on the Kindle Fire.

Obviously, there are some real winners in the e-reader and tablet market, most notably,  the Kindle and iPad, but is still fun to explore the other ideas are floating around.  Despite the Tablet P’s lack of computing power and poor sales outlook, it sparks an idea that can be developed further to grab the attention of consumers.

I would really like to see the major players in the tablet and e-reader world become powerful enough to handle heavier computing.  It would be nice to have the benefits of both in one device.  The foldable tablet could emerge as a hybrid laptop/tablet device.  The tablet would be hinged to a keyboard, but also removable.

So, we’ll see what happens.  It is always fun to speculate on the future of technology.

 

Color E-Ink Kindle on the Horizon?

Don’t give up on e-ink Kindles yet.  After the success of the Kindle Fire and the tablet boom, I was beginning to think that e-ink was on its way out.  However, there are new speculations floating around in the tech world about Amazon’s (NASDAQ: AMZN) supposed order of color e-ink  screens.

If that is so, we might be seeing a color e-ink version of the Kindle sometime next summer or early fall.  The timing is based on the past yearly refresh of the Kindle lineup.

I think this would give e-ink a much needed jump start to reclaim its place in the electronic sales market.  Tablets are showing unprecedented success, and are threatening to leave the e-ink devices behind to become a niche market unless they don’t do something about it.

The biggest advantages of a color e-ink Kindle over an LCD tablet are that it doesn’t cause eye strain and suck up battery life.  I love my iPad, but I can’t sit and read it for longer periods of time.  My Kindle’s battery lasts for a couple of months, whereas my iPad’s battery lasts about 10 hours or less depending on use.

Looking at it from an accessibility standpoint, there are certain vision conditions that cause the user to be sensitive to bright lights.  E-ink is obviously a lot friendlier to that type of condition.

The e-ink Kindle began as a single service device designed for reading.  The electronic paper style that the Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and other e-ink readers use is designed to simulate the experience of reading a real book.  Adding color would provide better graphics for comics, newspapers and magazines.  To me, comics are a better fit for paper rather than LCD.

I am excited about this new development.  I think in the long run there will be hybrid e-ink and LCD tablets out there on the market.  I don’t know about you, but it can get cumbersome toting around several different gadgets that each fulfill a different purpose.   By adding color, e-ink is a step closer towards making a device like that a reality.

 

Kindle for Android, Reading Apps & Good E-Reader

Earlier this month the Kindle for Android app got a bit of an update.  While nothing huge, it did finally bring the Real Page Numbers to Android users.  In addition to this, they managed to pare down the size of the download required to use the Kindle platform from 10+mb to a more manageable 8mb.  This might seem rather minor, but considering the lack of space on many Android devices as well as the fact that some users have reported sizes of up to 25mb (can’t reproduce that, but the claim has circulated), this is a definite improvement.

Much as I like the Kindle app however, and I do, there are some things that I would like to be able to do that it does not provide.  Real Page Numbers are nice, but situational at best given that they still only exist in a fraction of the available Kindle Editions.  Now, I have posted here before about the ability to download and install the Nook app through non-Amazon sources and this works quite well.  Sadly I believe that the specific method I mentioned several months ago has been blocked off, though.  This difficulty became a non-issue thanks to Good E-Reader being kind enough to open up their own free app store.

While you can find a fair selection of general purpose apps present that they felt were worth keeping around for people, the folks over at Good E-Reader are concentrating mostly on reading.  This covers books, magazines, comics, and all such things along those lines.  There are only free apps, but this allows the site to operate without adding in any of the inconvenient restrictions that currently plague locked-in Android device owners wishing to pick up something useful. It is definitely worth checking out.

In terms of reading on your Kindle Fire, for example, some people find it more convenient to have access to the Nook app’s extra level of brightness control than to be able to simply invert the contrast of the page.  Others will appreciate the level of social media integration offered by the Kobo app.  In either case, at least you will be able to open EPUB formatted eBooks, which the Kindle Fire lacks any form of native support for at the moment.  You won’t have luck with everything (Google Books, for example is still not working in my experience) but for the most part they’re doing a good job of making the latest popular selections available without all the hassle.

Overall Amazon has done a good job of giving customers what they want, both in terms of the software they provide and the hardware they sell.  I can understand the urge to retain control over what gets installed on Kindle Fire devices, especially since if anything goes wrong it is likely to be Amazon’s Customer Service that gets the call.  They have left the door pretty wide open to install most things, though, provided you know how to find them.  In some cases, it’s more than worth the effort it takes to get the most out of your experience.  Kindle Fire software updates do not remove any apps when they occur, so it shouldn’t be an ongoing hassle.

OverDrive Gets a Huge Membership Boost after Launching Kindle Library Lending

The Kindle Library Lending service launched in the fall of 2011 started with 11.000 libraries.  The number has grown to about 15,000 libraries and counting in the US, and 18,000 worldwide.  This new service offered via a partnership between Amazon and OverDrive has been very instrumental in facilitating this big jump in membership. more

Kindle Library Lending is available to anyone who has an e-ink Kindle, Kindle Fire, or Kindle reading app.  The books can be downloaded via Wi-Fi or USB.  Loan periods vary by library.

So it looks like a win win situation for both parties.  Customers who want to keep a book can purchase them on Amazon.  Amazon has the broad customer base and selection of books to bring to the table.  I do hope that they can eliminate some of the steps to downloading a book.  In some cases it takes a lot of digging to even find the e-book collection on the library’s website.

OverDrive is the repository that is used for holding digital book collections.  This includes both e-books and audiobooks.  The e-book collections are available on the Kindle, Nook, and any other e-reader that supports ePub format.  E-books can also be accessed on the computer.  If the service is offered at your local library, a link to it should be fairly prominent on the library’s website.

Most states have a digital library account with OverDrive.  North Carolina’s is called the NC Digital Library.  From there, select libraries subscribe to the account and offer e-books.  If your library doesn’t currently offer them, keep checking back.  More libraries are constantly being added to the service.  I see articles about individual libraries launching e-book lending all the time.

Between Kindle Library Lending from my local library and the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library, I’ve been able to find a lot of good reading material for free.  There are also a lot of reduced priced Kindle books available as well.  Each month features 100 Kindle Books under $3.99.  The major bestsellers aren’t available on either yet unfortunately, but they do offer a chance to explore new authors and catch up on older bestsellers.

 

Has the Kindle Killed the Nook eReader?

While the Nook line is clearly among the most popular eReaders ever to hit stores, arguably second only to the Kindle, it seems that the expense of keeping current has proven too much for Barnes & Noble.  They recently announced that there is an interest in breaking off the Nook and its associated business from the company as a whole.  There is no real word yet as to what the future of the eReading line will be, as things are still being explored at the moment, but B&N is blaming recent greater than expected losses on their investments in the Nook (especially the Nook Simple Touch which has completely failed to meet sales expectations) and as such seems to have good reason to be dropping it.  The big question for users will probably have to be whether this is actually a positive even for Amazon.  There are good reasons to be skeptical and hope that somebody comes along willing to pick up the expenses.

Nobody would really mind always being able to know which eReader is the best to buy, of course.  If all that is really left for users in the US is the Kindle, it makes things easier at the store.  The lack of competition that such an arrangement relies upon, though, is problematic.  Look at how things stand now simply from a hardware standpoint.  The Nook Simple Touch, while tied to what I personally would consider the less compelling platform, is definitely the superior device.  The Kindle Touch is nice and has a few advantages of its own that make it a close race, but the lack of physical page turn buttons and the light color of the case both work against it.  You wouldn’t think something as simple as the color would have such a huge effect on perceptions, but look at all of the complaints that have come up about contrast for the new Kindles despite having essentially identical screens when measured carefully.  That said, neither would have gotten to where they are today so fast if there hadn’t been the steady trumping of each model from either company as it appeared.

Demand, fortunately, has never been higher.  This means that there is likely to be some other interested party willing to pick up the Nook line should Barnes & Noble give up.  In a way this would be a particularly positive change since it would introduce the possibility of finally seeing an international release of the currently US-only product.  Booksellers tend to welcome any advantage that will help them keep afloat despite competition from Amazon, so finding sales partners wouldn’t be particularly difficult given the proper incentives and marketting.

Ideally I would love to see Google or Kobo pick up where B&N leaves off.  Not many other companies besides Apple have both the media and hardware expertise necessary to keep up with the Kindle and just selling what has been developed so far without developing new products would be the end of the line.  This assumes that the eReading line is done as far as B&N is concerned, but things increasingly point that way.  We’ll see where things go over the course of the next couple quarters, but time will tell.

How the Kindle Can Benefit Independent Bookstores

I was reading an article a couple of days ago that I thought made a good point.  It discussed how despite the surge of e-books and e-readers in recent years, there is still a place for print books.  On a personal note, I can still appreciate reading a print book from time to time despite owning a Kindle Touch, iPad and iPhone.

There seems to be a general consensus that print is on its way out, and getting an e-reader means you’ll never read print books again.  I think instead of replacing print books, digital books will just be adding to the types of formats that people can use to read.  Digital books allow more font adjustments and lighting, so they offer a more customized reading experience.

With the rise of e-readers including the Amazon Kindle, and the e-books that go along with it, many of the major book chains have faltered or have gone out of business.  Borders declared bankruptcy earlier this year, and Barnes & Noble is not doing all too great.  It does have the Nook in its arsenal however, and it has definitely provided healthy competition for the Kindle.

I think the foreseeable future still holds a big place for both print and digital materials.  Print books give a certain feel that digital books cannot.  There is really something for everyone.  You have print, e-readers, and most recently, tablets.  The Kindle Fire has taken the tablet market by a storm, and is taking a hit at the iPad sales already.

The thing that has hurt the big chain bookstores so much is that Amazon offers books in all formats so much cheaper.  Independent bookstores can also offer used books at competitive prices.  They can also offer a sense of warmth and community that you don’t get with a larger bookstore.

So, smaller bookstores have the potential to shine.  It is all a matter of addressing what the customers want.  I’ve always dreamed of owning a used book store where people can come to read, work, or just gather.  Maybe one day soon there will be more independent bookstores that sell both e-books and print books.

 

 

 

A Tribute to Michael Hart, Founder of Project Gutenberg

Michael Hart, the founder of ebooks and Project Gutenberg, died on September 6, 2011 at the age of 64. His death will be a huge loss for the digital book and literary community. However, the work he has already done has set the groundwork in the ebook world. Other members of the literary community will have to continue his mission to provide global literacy. Hart founded Project Gutenberg in 1971, and it is the longest running literary project recorded.

Project Gutenberg currently offers over 36,000 public domain ebooks that are available on the Kindle, iPad, PC and other computers or portable devices that allow ePub, HTML, or Simple Text. All of the books are free, and there’s no cost to join. A wealth of information is literally at your fingertips. The information is top quality.

Hart’s ebook idea began when he typed up a copy of the Declaration of Independence on his computer and sent it to others in the network at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.  This was barely after the internet was created.

Hart’s literary impact was profound because through ebooks, he opened up literature to the global audience. Project Gutenberg currently has ebooks available in 60 languages. It is also a huge asset to libraries and research. The longevity of this project proves that it the ability to adapt right along with the rapid changes in technology.

E-book readers such as the Kindle, Nook and Kobo are just part of the progression towards better literacy. They add portability and easy access to millions of ebooks. The Kindle has made life much easier for people who can’t read small print through its font size adjustments feature.

One of Michael Hart’s goals was to reach out to children. This goal is being realized as more children’s books are being added to ebook collections, and as Kindles and other e-book readers are being introduced in the schools. The lure of cool gadgets are enticing children who normally do not like reading, to consider it.

It always amazes me when I read about how long some technologies have really been around. I have only thought of ebooks being a new, twenty-first century invention. But, in fact, they have a rather long, rich history. Project Gutenberg dates all the way back to 1971, before computers really became a household item. E-books were around 36 years before the Kindle was even invented!

So, a big thank you goes out to Michael Hart for being such a champion for literacy, and for making information accessible to a much greater, and more diverse audience.

What To Consider About A Kindle For College

It’s that time of year again and students new and old are heading back to college for the fall.  Now, more than ever, having an eReader just makes sense for anybody serious about their education.  That said, with so many options on the market it can be hard to choose.  Kindle or Nook?  eReader or Tablet?  Skip it all and just get a laptop, since there are eReading apps anyway?  When trying to decide, there are a few factors that are really important.

First, determine what your eBook needs will be.  Students new to college can expect significant introductory coursework.  This often means older, more widely read works of literature and basic textbooks.  Generally this means extended reading of the literature and textbooks only pulled out to work through assignments.  For that combination, I recommend an eReader like the Kindle or Nook combined with a PC app for textbook reading (They’re only going to be opened for a few minutes at a time anyway).  As always, check the list of required texts to make sure this is feasible before buying.  This combination has the added advantage of paying for itself in savings very quickly since a Kindle will only cost you $114 and many commonly used books can be found for free.

In terms of more advanced students, the individual needs will determine whether use of an eReader is feasible.  Many technical texts require both extended study and full color diagrams to make sense.  The current monochrome limitations of the Kindle would make it less than useful for this.  If the program in question requires extensive illustrated textbook reference, you probably don’t need one.  If you will be spending much time using academic text references like JSTOR, or focusing on purely text-based studies, the Kindle makes perfect sense.

Assuming you have an idea what kind of product you need, the next step is choosing the particular model.  Availability is not really a concern with the Amazon Kindle always including free shipping and the Barnes & Noble Nook available in all of their local stores and many of the college book stores they service.  For the most part, this is a matter of personal preference.  Both devices accomplish everything you would expect from a reading device and neither has a clear advantage over the other.  For a hands-on comparison, many Best Buy stores will have both devices side by side.

I do not recommend using nothing but a laptop PC if the goal is to focus on eBooks.  Extended reading on LCD screens can be uncomfortable at best, and the potential for distraction is far higher than on an eReader.

Similarly, there are no circumstances under which I would consider an iPad a valid substitute for either a laptop or an eReader.  In terms of reading, they fall short due to the short battery life and a back-lit display that can be hard on the eyes during long study sessions.  In classes, the potential for distraction is far higher than on something like a Kindle, which has led to many instructors being uncomfortable even having the devices present in the classroom.  They also certainly do not manage to work as well as a laptop for composition or presentation preparation.  Students will be forced to perform necessary tasks elsewhere.

Whatever the needs, make sure to keep in mind both the Kindle eText rental service and public domain titles available through the Kindle Store (or just Project Gutenberg) for free.  Making use of eBooks will save you money, if you are careful, even accounting for the costs of the reading device.

Office Max Gets the Kindle

Starting August 7, Office Max will start carrying the Kindle. It is the latest major retail chain to offer the e-reader. It joins Best Buy, Target, Radio Shack, Staples, and most recently, Toys R Us, in selling the Kindle.

It is not clear whether the office supply retailer will be selling both the Kindle 3 and Kindle DX. The Kindle 3 with special offers is the bestselling version, so that is a shoo in.

Only July 30, Office Max started carrying the Nook, which just lowered its price to $139 for its touch screen e-reader. This puts the devices in direct competition and gives Amazon the nudge to get a touch screen version of its bestselling e-reader out there.

The Nook has given the Kindle a pretty big run for its money in recent months, beating it for the first time in sales ratings. I can’t wait to see what Amazon has in store for the new Kindle lineup. I’m sure they will amp up their efforts to take the lead back.

So now we have the Kindle hitting a variety of consumers: business, education, parents and children, and of course online shoppers.

Office Max will offer the Kindle just in time to hit the back to school crowd, which is perfect considering this retailer sells school supplies.

Toys R Us to Sell the Kindle Starting July 31

Toys R Us joins Target, Staples, Best Buy, Radio Shack and AT&T in selling Kindles in their stores.  So, from these stores, the e-reader reaches out to consumers in electronics, business, wireless, and now parents and children.

Why sell Kindles in a toy store?  It sounded kind of farfetched to me at first.  The e-reader has started to reach out to children as an educational tool.  K-12 schools are starting to experiment with using e-readers for textbooks and for other educational needs.  I’ve seen articles floating around that show that school libraries are testing e-readers and tablets for use.

Both Amazon and Barnes & Noble are targeting the back to school crowd this year.  Office Max will be selling the Nook around the same time.

It also catches the eye of parents who shop at the toy store.  Just puts the Kindle out there in yet another way.  It will be well positioned for the holiday crowd on Black Friday.

The major shopping times are going to be overflowing with new gadgets this year.  The thought is kind of overwhelming.  But, the competition will be fierce, which means awesome prices.

Toys ‘R Us will offer the Kindle 3G and Wi-Fi, as well as the Kindle Wi-Fi with Special Offers.  In addition to the device itself, there will be a good number of accessories available.

I remember, just a couple of years ago, the Kindle was only limited to online sales.  It is now reaching out to brick and mortar consumers of all ages and interests.  Those who were skittish about buying online have a lot of venues to choose from.

The popular e-reader can be used as an important tool for education in several ways.  The lure of a cool new gadget gets kids excited about reading.  Kindle games and applications have been developed to help kids with learning math and spelling.  There are also interactive Kindle books available that are packed with adventure.

Lastly, the lightweight e-reader is portable and fits easily into a backpack.  I think the Kindle can be used as an important tool in encouraging all children to enjoy reading.  It offers so many types of reading material, from books to magazines, and even graphic novels.  There is something for everyone.

 

Kobo Opens German Store

Kobo, the e-reader that Borders has partnered with, doesn’t have the successful reputation that the Kindle and Nook have, but it does have an advantage on the international scene.  The e-reader has had a global focus from the beginning.  This would be a great niche to excel in.

Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) has a library of about 25, 000 German titles, but Kobo has launched an e-book store that boasts a whopping 80,000 German titles.  I was surprised to find that Germany has the 2nd largest e-book market in the world.  The United States is the first.

This is a competition to watch because, in order to succeed on a global scale, an e-reader needs to have a robust collection of digital material available.  Amazon is certainly able to do this.  They just need to establish good relationships with foreign authors and publishers.  Here is some healthy competition giving Amazon a wake up call at another angle.

In the past, I’ve noticed a lot of reviewers from other countries have been frustrated with the restrictions on various Kindle products because they’re not accessible.  Downloading books outside of the US is pretty costly.

I’ve always associated Kobo with the Borders book chain.  Borders is currently being threatened by liquidators and will most likely flop here soon.  When I saw this, I wondered, well what about Kobo?

Turns out, Kobo is a completely separate entity than Borders and is a financially secure, Canadian based company.  So, nothing will be lost if Borders does go down.  Kobo’s newest e-reader, the Kobo Touch, along with the Nook Touch both have an edge that the Kindle doesn’t have…yet.  But, that is about to change.  Good to see these e-readers try to outrank each other and get better and better. The price drops certainly don’t hurt either!

What I’d really like to see is a global collaboration of sorts.  Access to books shouldn’t be restricted by travel.  That cuts down the portability of an e-reader.  Technology has connected society on a global scale.  It’d be cool if everyone could have access to a diverse collection of books from different languages.

 

 

 

 

So Many Gadgets! What Do We Choose?

As I read the article about the new Kindle upgrades coming up in October, I started to feel really overwhelmed.  There is so much to choose from these days.  So, I thought I’d break it down a bit.  It is all a matter of what type of operating system you prefer (Android or Apple iOS) and what uses you have for your devices.

E-Readers

The Amazon Kindle has been out since 2007 and has evolved a great deal over the last four years to compete with the growing e-reader market: Nook, Kobo, Sony, and most recently, Google’s iriver Story.  It has been interesting to watch how obvious the competition is which all of the companies dropping prices and mocking each others’ style.  Note the latest touchscreen craze.

Then we have the NookColor, a mixed tablet and e-reader that has succeeded in knocking the Kindle off of it its pedestal.

In terms of e-readers, to me, the Kindle wins hands down.  I’ve really enjoyed my Kindle and am looking forward to a new touchscreen version.  Amazon has excellent customer service, and shows no sign of crashing and burning anytime soon, unlike Barnes & Noble and Borders.  If prices keep dropping the way they have, they’ll be pretty cheap here soon.  Now, if only we can stop the rising e-book prices.  But, library lending and all of the free and reduced priced e-books available out there might just take care of that.

Tablets

The iPad wins here.  I am not an Apple fiend by any means, but like the Kindle, the iPad has been around for over a year and offers a lot of different apps for various purposes.  I use mine as a laptop basically.  I also love that I can enlarge the text so easily.  Give me a year and I might be saying something different, but for now, I go for the iPad.  Other tablets to watch: Acer Iconia, Samsung Galaxy Tab, and of course the Kindle Tablet.

Why have a tablet AND an e-reader?  I don’t think of my Kindle as a computer. iBooks does not have nearly the book collection that Amazon does, and reading on the iPad Kindle app does not feel the same.  I can still curl up with the Kindle in bed or on the couch, and it isn’t hard on the eyes.  I love how both Kindle and iPad can fit easily into a tote bag.  Plus, e-readers are getting to be cheap enough that it wouldn’t be a huge setback to have both.

And then there are smartphones…but that market is a whole niche of its own.

 

 

Kindle Tablet to Hit the Market in October

I haven’t seen an official Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) announcement yet, but according to the Wall Street Journal, the Kindle Tablet and two other Kindle upgrades are set to arrive in October.  The Kindle Tablet that has been under speculation for months will directly compete with the iPad, while a new touch version of the Kindle will compete with the Nook and Kobo Touch editions.

To be honest, in a matter of personal preference, I am more excited about the possibility of a touch version of the Kindle because I’m not a big fan of the keyboard.  Whenever this does get release, I’ll be ready to upgrade my Kindle.  The keys are way too small and somewhat difficult to press.  However, when the touch version does arrive, there will need to be some kind of audio enabled to make sure it is accessible for people with disabilities.

As for the tablet.  This is exciting news, but the iPad has a pretty solid hold on the tablet market, and is said to be successful on into the next year.  So, I think that it will be awhile before the Kindle Tablet will make a huge dent in iPad sales.  There are also a number of other tablets to choose from as well.  Although, I will say, a much cheaper Kindle Tablet might just give Amazon a good start in the tablet game, as will the well liked Android operating system.  I see the iPad to the tablet market as the Kindle is to the e-reader market.  They are both the inventors of their own niches, and were the only ones to hold their niches for a good length of time.

Lastly, there will be an upgrade on the current version of the Kindle.  It will be similar in structure, but include better features and a lower price.  Prices are dropping constantly.  Amazon just dropped the Kindle 3G Special Offers version from $164 to $139.  So, perhaps a $99 or less version of the Kindle is in the near future?  We can only hope!

Kindle Culture

Stephen Peters, a longtime popular culture writer, has a book called Kindle Culture that I think is worth reading.  It is a quick read, and has a lighthearted, easygoing writing style.  It is interesting to read how the Kindle has changed lives.  I was particularly intrigued with the story about how one woman was able to read for the first time in 10 years.  The Kindle has done wonders for people with print disabilities, and is much more cost effective than standard assistive technology.  I can attest that as a visually impaired Kindle user, the font size adjustments have been a lifesaver.

The Kindle has impacted many aspects of peoples’ lives from increased portability to profitable business ventures.  Many individuals and companies have created covers, accessories, and now applications for the Kindle.  You will also find a number of forums and blogs that united Kindle lovers from various backgrounds around the world.

I like this reviewer’s point about how it is neat to see the concrete effects that the Kindle has had on people.

Michelle R

“Kindle Culture explores the boards, merch, and groups that have sprung up to worship and to profit from The Kindle. There’s a certain charm in reading about boards you frequent and people you “know.” It’s touching to read how the device has helped disabled people who’ve lost the ability to read traditional books. As a fan of the device, much of this is a vindication, because it’s hard not to be touched when you see concrete proof that your e-reader has the power to change lives.

I admit that this book is kind of dated.  It was published in 2009, but I think it is still relevant because it shows the impact that the e-reader has made in just two short years since release.  One of the “questions” that the Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) description of Kindle Culture brings up is the effect that the “kindle killers” will have on the e-reading device.  Two years since this book’s release, the Kindle is still the best selling e-reader.  So it has definitely held its own among all of the Nooks, iPads, Kobo, Sony e-readers, and other e-readers that are out there.

In theory, Peters could rewrite Kindle Culture about every couple of years due to the rapid changing pace of e-reader technology and competition.  The “Kindle Culture” has grown exponentially since this book was written through the price drops, e-reader market competition, upcoming Library Lending program, Kindle applications and many more.

Does the Upcoming Kindle Tablet Mean No Touchscreen Kindle eReader?

The Kindle has been seeing a few new releases from the competition in the past couple weeks.  Some of what they bring to the table is software and such, of course, but the most visible trend has been the move to E Ink touchscreens.  Both the Kobo and Barnes & Noble’s Nook line have released nearly button-free eReaders in an effort to set themselves apart.  Ironically both of these companies tried to set themselves apart by releasing amazingly similar looking products, but that’s unimportant.  This leads to the inevitable speculation that such a design might be the future of the Kindle.  If I had to make a guess, I’d say it will be eventually but not right away.

I don’t think it will be an immediately changed design to keep up with the apparent trend for a couple reasons.  First, clearly Amazon’s focus has better places to be.  The Kindle Tablet line, whatever they choose to call it in the end, involves a number of devices in several shapes and sizes if rumors are to be believed.  None of them are likely to run the same software that is on the existing Kindle.  None of them are going to use the same hardware.  it just isn’t strong enough.  There is simply no obvious direct connection between the device offerings besides Amazon.com as a media vendor and any marketing device they might choose to employ to draw a connection for potential customers.  Given this, it seems unlikely that Amazon would want to be designing or releasing a Kindle 4 dedicated eReader at the same time.  Why would they?  The existing Kindle is doing amazingly well.  The new Nook and Kobo are basically playing catch-up and trying to match features at this point.  Nowhere in the specs of either was there an obvious point of superiority in design that Amazon would have to struggle to meet.  The only major software points involve social networking and library lending, both of which Amazon is working with already.  No need for a new device.

Also, the move to touchscreens by their competitors, if played with correctly, offers Amazon an incentive to stay right where they are for a bit.  As I mentioned, the new Nook and Kobo look rather similar.  In fact, it seems hard to make the hardware side of a touchscreen device particularly unique.  Nobody expects the Kindle Tablet to make a big splash for changing what it means to be a tablet, right?  For now, the Kindle will be the most recognizable eReader anywhere in a way that is only emphasized by the homogeneity of their competition.

This will only work for a while until people become more used to touchscreens in their eReaders and expect them, of course.  It seems an inevitable step at this point no matter how much one might like the more mechanical controls.  It will make particular sense for Amazon to update the Kindle to bring it in line with the Kindle Tablet line’s hardware should that take off as strongly as they’re hoping, since we have to assume that an affordable tablet PC with a non-LCD screen will finally be what makes an impact on Kindle sales.  For now, though, probably not that much of a rush.

Barnes & Noble Steps Up the Kindle vs Nook Competition With New Nook eReader

The much awaited Barnes & Noble announcement on March 24th has taken place and provided the marketplace with a new Nook eReader that is far better suited to compete with the Amazon Kindle than the Nook Color has so far managed.  It seems like a long overdue and very welcome update to the increasingly dated original Nook offering.  Due to ship before Father’s Day, specifically by June 10th if the B&N website is to be believed, we should have some more hands-on information in the near future.  For now, looking at the feature list, there’s some reason to be excited about it.  The feature list is almost point for point a comparison against the Kindle.  Here’s what they’ve got for us:

E Ink Pearl Touch Screen

This one was a bit obvious, but finally the Nook gets a better screen.  Even if B&N had done nothing besides throw the Pearl screens into the existing first-generation Nook, it’s a no-brainer.  Still, glad to have it.  While I’m somewhat skeptical of the usefulness of a touch screen, it’s likely to be more user-friendly than the one on the old Nook and we have to hope the implementation is smoother than the Sony equivalent.  I have little doubt that it will be.

2 Month Battery Life

You say the Kindle is good for a month of reading without recharging?  Then of course the Nook must be good for two!  In all seriousness, do we really need to worry about how long the charge will hold once we’re over a month?  My only complaint on this point is that it is misleading.  In truth, all they’ve done is give us a battery with the same life as the Kindle and measured the expected battery life with an assumed 30mins of reading per day instead of the previously assumed 60mins.  In response, Amazon has changed the info on the Kindle page to match.  No, they didn’t change any hardware, just the metric.

Newer, Lighter, Smaller Form

One of the biggest complaints about the old Nook was the size and weight.  Now, it’s shorter, lighter, and even has a dark frame to make the screen stand out more.  All good news!  The Nook is now around an ounce lighter, an inch shorter, and only a little over 30% thicker than the Kindle.  It will be far more comfortable to read on for extended periods than the original Nook ever was.

Who Comes Out Ahead?

Well, Amazon still has a couple things going for them.  More internal memory is nice, though of course the Nook still allows use of an SD card so the point is moot.  There’s no 3G version of the new Nook, so that’s still a plus for the Kindle.  For some reason B&N seems to have gotten rid of the web browser, so that’s something to take into account.  No matter how either side tries to play things up at this point, though, it seems that we’ve got something of a tie.  Unless you have very specific needs, the two are fairly even.  While I would have loved to see some sort of innovation from the new Nook, at least they’re back in the game and you can’t find much wrong with the product they’re presenting us with.

2011 Book Expo America Free Kindle Samples and more

The 2011 Book Expo America brought all kinds of exciting events and upcoming projects for the Amazon Kindle and others.  Amazon Publishing offered author signing and interviews, Kindle excerpts and more.

Amazon Publishing has a collection of free Kindle downloads that provide excerpts and teasers for upcoming releases.  The new releases will be available in the Summer and Fall of 2011.  Some full versions are available for preorder.

This is a great opportunity to test drive some books and authors that you haven’t gotten a chance to try.

We’ve already seen the competition heating up with the latest Nook releases.  I actually got a chance to check ou the NookColor recently, and thought it was pretty decent.  At the expo, Kobo introduced the new Kobo Touch.  It depends mostly on touch screen with the exception of one home button at the bottom, which is similar to the iPad set up.  Based on reviews, the Kobo touch looks pretty clean and can probably hold it’s own in the e-reader market.

The Kobo may sound great in theory, but in order for it to be accessible, it’ll have to have some kind of voice navigation feature.  Currently, the Kindle is way ahead of both the Nook and Kobo readers because of its accessibility features and text to speech option.  The iPad also has a lot of great accessibility features of its own, however, the iPad will be more competitive with the rumored Kindle Tablet than the current Kindle e-reader.

 

Nook 3G Being Phased Out

In an interesting, but not exactly surprising announcement through Engadget, we have learned that the Nook 3G is on its way out.  At this point in time, what 3G models are left are pretty much all there will ever be, so now’s the time to pick one up if you’re interested in the more expensive, if somewhat more accommodating, version of this successful Kindle competitor.

There are a few theories being thrown around to try and figure out the logic behind this move.  One of the more popular ones, though in my opinion the least believable of the bunch, is that this is a prelude to the release of a 3G model for the Nook Color.  Were this to be the case (according to the supporting rationale behind this), the classic Nook model would then be moved to the category of “budget Nook”, given a price cut, and there would subsequently be no room for a higher priced model.  Why do I think this unlikely?  Mostly, there is no chance that Barnes & Noble(NYSE:BKS) is going to do something as silly as putting unrestricted free 3G access onto one such an easily rooted, but highly versatile, device.  Their costs would explode.  Even the existing 3G Nooks have less 3G functionality than the equivalent Kindle models, being completely restricted to accessing the B&N book store.

Another possibility being tossed around, slightly more likely but still not quite making sense to me personally, is that this is a sign that B&N is getting ready to release a new version of the Nook with the improved E Ink Pearl screen, like that of the Kindle.  If this were the case, the assumption is that in order to sell the more expensive model in greater quantity, production of the 3G device would begin earlier than the WiFi model so that early adopters would be left without the option.  This one, however, relies on the assumption that the $50 price increase between the two models represents a significant per-unit profit increase for Barnes & Noble, and I just don’t buy that.  Between the extra hardware and the additional cost incurred in making the 3G coverage contract-free, there simply can’t be that much margin left for profit in such a small price hike.  Much as I hope we see a Nook with a better screen at some point soon, this one is far fetched.

No, this is probably something simpler.  Not the heralding of a new launch or update to the Nook line, but a streamlining of production and a removal of some of the complications of upkeep.  There have already been some reports of people having their Nook’s coverage temporarily denied by AT&T for whatever reason, which has to be one of any number of headaches B&N is enduring. Since they’re pretty much pinning their hopes on a more tablet-like future for eReaders, there’s not as much need for 3G coverage, especially when it is as highly restricted as the early Nook’s was. WiFi isn’t all that hard to come by anymore.  This shouldn’t hurt people all that much.  If all else fails, there’s always the Kindle with its unrestricted 3G coverage.  If you’re completely set on a Nook 3G, however, there’s still time!  Right now they may be turning down bulk orders, but the product hasn’t been pulled from shelves.  Grab one while you can.

Cyber Monday Deals from Barnes & Nobles and Amazon: No Kindle or Nook Color Deals Though

Barnes & Nobles is running couple of great offers today.

First offer is: free shipping on any purchase with no minimum amount. Just enter coupon code B3X4N4N at check out.

Below are some details of the offer:
Get FREE SHIPPING (Standard Delivery).
1. Place eligible items in your cart.
2. Proceed to Checkout; select “Standard Delivery”
3. Enter the coupon code
4. Complete your Checkout.

There is another cool offer running today at BN.COM: Save 25% off one item – which gives you 25% off the highest priced item in your cart. Enter coupon code B4D7H9A at checkout. The 25% discount will be applied to the highest-priced item in your cart.

Unfortunately both of these coupons have bunch of exceptions and NOOK is one of them.

For Cyber Monday deals at Amazon check out Amazon Lightning Deals page.

If you’re looking for a great gift for someone who loves to read check out Kindle WiFi, Kindle WiFi+3G or Nook. All of them are great e-readers and will make a great gift to anyone.

You can also check active Amazon Cyber Monday deals below. There are some exciting deals going on in Electronics, Sports, Health and Home categories.

Also make sure to check out deals on bowlex sport equipment and Microsoft Kinect is one of the hits on both Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Bowlex is running some very nice discounts right now and Microsoft Kinect is one of the hottest gifts of this shopping season.