Technologizer posts about Barnes & Noble

Nook Tablet vs. Kindle Fire: A Guide to Decide

By  |  Posted at 8:51 am on Thursday, November 10, 2011


Nook Tablet and Kindle Fire

If it’s a cheap tablet you’re after, Barnes & Noble and Amazon want your business. Amazon’s $199 Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble’s $249 Nook Tablet both look promising on paper—the former with its suite of Amazon services, and latter with its superior specs and more diverse streaming video offerings—but chances are, you’ve only got room for one tablet on your holiday wish list.

As is often the case with gadgets, finding the best 7-inch tablet is a matter of figuring out your personal needs. Below, I’ll divvy up the strengths of the Nook Tablet and Kindle Fire so you can figure out what’s most important.

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GigaOm’s Kevin C. Tofel on why Amazon and Barnes & Noble’s rather modest Android tablets have a shot at succeeding when more ambitious ones from other companies have not:

Surprisingly, it took two booksellers / digital content companies to figure out there’s a market for smaller, less expensive tablets that focus on key consumer activities. The Fire and Nook may not be computer replacements, but for most people, neither is the iPad, yet it’s easily outselling comparable Android tablets by a large margin according to the limited data available.

Posted by Harry at 12:38 pm


Barnes & Noble’s New Nook Attempts to Out-Kindle the Kindle

By  |  Posted at 8:44 am on Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Barnes & Noble’s first e-reader was the original E Ink version of the Nook, which had its virtues but lagged far behind’s Kindle in terms of overall polish. Then the company released the Nook Color, which went off in an un-Kindle-ish direction: color, richly-formatted magazines, and Android apps.

Today, B&N announced another new Nook–and this one, it appears, is meant to take the Kindle on more squarely than either of its predecessors.It’s $139 (matching the price of the Wi-Fi Kindle, but not the ad-supported one). It looks like a Kindle, with a gray case and 6″ E Ink screen (and no color touchscreen strip, the most striking feature of the original Nook). It stresses great battery life–in fact, Barnes & Noble is claiming two months on a charge, vs. one month for the Kindle.

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Nook Color’s New App Market, Software Emphasize the “Tablet” in “Reader’s Tablet”

By  |  Posted at 5:30 am on Monday, April 25, 2011


A little over a week ago, I wondered whether the world needed tablets that were significantly less costly and significantly less fancy than the iPad and its most prominent rivals. A couple of commenters said that such a beast already existed: Barnes & Noble’s Nook Color e-reader. They had a point. At $249, B&N’s Android-based tablet is half the price of the cheapest iPad. Its 7″ color screen and industrial design are quite nice, but it doesn’t have a 1-GHz dual-core processor or  cameras or gobs of storage (it has a merely adequate 8GB) or 3G or other features which are becoming de facto accouterments on higher-end models.

Of course, Barnes & Noble has never pitched the Nook Color as an iPad killer. It calls it a “reader’s tablet,” and it gave the device a modified version of Android that doesn’t have the standard Android interface or access to the Android Marketplace. It’s’s cheaper, E-Ink-sporting Kindle that’s been in B&N’s crosshairs.

But when the company released the Nook Color last year, it did say it was working on an app marketplace of its own–a move that would make the Nook Color a little less of a dedicated e-reader and a little more of a general-purpose device. (Already, some geeky buyers had rooted their Nooks to turn them into standard Android tablets.) Today, B&N is launching that marketplace–which is a new section in the shopping area where it already sells books and magazines–as part of the Nook Color’s version 1.2 upgrade. And while it’s sticking with the “reader’s tablet” idea and saying it’ll focus on reading materials and complementary items, it’s also saying that it’s listened to consumers who think that a $249 Nook Color has a place as an alternative to pricier, more powerful tablets.

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Who’s Suing Who? A Cheat Sheet to the Mobile Patent Mess

All the legal ugliness in the phone business--and a few peaceable relationships--all on one page.

By  |  Posted at 7:32 pm on Tuesday, April 19, 2011


So Apple is suing Samsung, accusing it of imitating Apple products with its Galaxy phones and tablets. The most startling thing about the news may be that the two companies weren’t already in court with each other. Over the past few years, the mobile industry has been so rife with suits and countersuits that if every complainant managed to sue every subject of its ire out of business…well, there’d hardly be a mobile industry left.

I had trouble remembering the precise details of the umpteen cases that have made headlines–as well as some related relationships, such as Microsoft’s licensing agreements with Amazon and HTC–so I decided to document them with a handy-dandy infographic, as much for my own edification as anyone else’s.

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More Patent Madness: Microsoft is Suing Barnes & Noble

By  |  Posted at 2:57 pm on Monday, March 21, 2011


More news in the never-ending saga of technology companies suing each other over patents: Microsoft is suing Barnes & Noble and its manfuacturing partners Foxconn and Inventec, saying that the bookseller’s Android-based Nook and Nookcolor e-readers violate Microsoft software patents dating back to the 1990s. The move isn’t a shocker given that Microsoft had already sued Motorola over Android phones and struck licensing agreements with HTC (for Android phones) and (for the not-based-on-Android Kindle e-reader).

The license fee that Microsoft says it expects makers of Android devices to pay it would make it the only company to collect a royalty on every Android-based gadget sold. (Google gives away the software.)

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Barnes & Noble’s Nookcolor is a good e-reader that leads a secret double life as a reasonably-priced Android tablet. And now B&N is selling them on eBay for a startlingly low price: $199.

Posted by Harry at 8:00 am


The Decline and Fall of Physical Media Retailing: A Timeline

By  |  Posted at 12:51 am on Thursday, February 17, 2011


Some of you may find this difficult to believe, but there was once a time when this country was positively bulging at the seams with cavernous retail establishments that offered books, recorded music, home video, or some combination thereof. Okay, there are still some of them left. But with Monday’s news that bookselling behemoth Borders is filing for bankruptcy and shuttering at least 200 stores, it’s worth taking a look at what’s happened to the retailing of physical media in this country in recent years. It’s been a remarkably bleak time.

The music retailing business has almost completely collapsed; the nation’s biggest video-rental outfit is bankrupt and its largest competitor folded last year; Borders is threatened with extinction and its larger and more successful rival, Barnes & Noble, faces serious challenges. All this woe has befallen these industries at the same time that digital media–from music downloads to streaming movies–has boomed.

You can’t blame digital content alone for media retailing’s hard times. Storekeeping has always been a tricky business, especially during economic slumps. (I don’t think that MP3s or iTunes had anything to do with the demise of big chains such as Linens n’ Things. Long before Amazon and Netflix started distributing content digitally, they up-ended their respective industries by shipping physical goods through the mail–Amazon has better prices every day than Borders has when it’s having a going-out-of-business sale.) And several of the giant retailers that have crashed seem to have been the victim of their own boneheaded business decisions more than anything else. (Borders opened three locations within two miles of each other in San Francisco, all of which are now toast; the management of Hollywood Video mocked Netflix-style mail-order DVD distribution as a blip they didn’t need to concern themselves with.)

Anyhow, here’s a timeline of what’s happened to the nation’s largest physical-media merchants over the past eight years. It starts in February of 2003–a little over four years after Diamond Media released the Rio PMP300 MP3 player, a moment that I, at least, consider the real beginning of the digital revolution.

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I Own a “Vast Kindle Library,” and I’m Worried

By  |  Posted at 7:49 pm on Saturday, February 5, 2011


Today, I wanted to buy a book. I did what I usually do these days before I plunk down my money for one: I checked to see if it was available as an Amazon Kindle e-book–one which I’d be able read not only on a Kindle but also on an iPad, an iPhone, an Android phone, a Mac, or a PC. It was. My finger instinctively lunged towards the 1-Click button.

And then it dawned on me: With the recent development that Apple is going to require creators of e-reader apps to sell books using its in-app purchasing feature, it’s not the least bit clear what the fate of Kindle books on Apple devices will be. (Apple says that as long as e-readers support in-app purchases, they’ll be able to retain access to digital books bought elsewhere–even though this violates the App Store approval guidelines.)

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E-Readers: They’re All Selling Like an Unspecified Number of Hotcakes!

By  |  Posted at 10:04 am on Thursday, December 30, 2010


Back in August, I wrote about’s odd habit of frequently bragging about sales of its Kindle e-reader without ever providing explicit numbers. It continues to do so–and it’s inspired its competitors to do some similarly evasive crowing of their own.

Barnes & Noble issued a press release today that it had sold “millions” of Nooks since the first version’s release in December of 2009. But it mostly bragged about Nook sales without disclosing them, by saying that Nooks are the company’s best-selling products ever, and that the Nookcolor is its best-selling gift this holiday season.

Barnes & Noble, Inc. (NYSE: BKS), the world’s largest bookseller, today announced that with millions of NOOK eReading devices sold, the line has become the company’s biggest bestseller ever in its nearly 40-year history.  The new NOOKcolor Reader’s Tablet, introduced just eight weeks before Christmas, is the company’s number one selling gift of the holiday season. Barnes & Noble also announced that it now sells more digital books than its large and growing physical book business on, the world’s second largest online bookstore.


Demand for the critically acclaimed NOOKcolor remained high following the product’s introduction in late October through the holidays. Sales have continued to exceed the company’s high expectations.

The only hard number in the release is the “millions” of Nooks sold; we can apparently assume that B&N has sold at least two million devices. (A few weeks ago, it was a minor news story when an Amazon staffer said that “millions” of third-generation Kindles had been sold in 73 days; I wonder if B&N would have been even this specific if Amazon hadn’t made the leap first?)

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Android vs. Android

By  |  Posted at 10:02 am on Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Time for another Last Gadget Standing face-off! On the surface, Google and Samsung’s Nexus S and Barnes & Noble’s Nookcolor don’t have all that much in common—after all, one is a smartphone and one is a “reader’s tablet.” But they’re both based on the same operating system, Google’s Android, and that makes them distant cousins, at least.

I’ve reviewed and (mostly) enjoyed both of them–they’re both worthy Last Gadget Standing semi-finalists. Now it’s time for you to weigh in.

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Call It the Un-Kindle

By  |  Posted at 11:34 am on Sunday, December 19, 2010


Last Gadget Standing Nominee: Barnes & Noble Nookcolor

Price: $249

The simplest way to describe 2009′s first-generation Nook e-reader was to say it was a lot like an Amazon Kindle. The easiest way to describe the new Nookcolor is that it’s several things that a Kindle is not. This Android-based gizmo has a color touchscreen, giving it a richer interface and the ability to handle magazines and kids’ books much better than the Kindle. And the backlit screen is perfectly legible in dim lighting which renders the Kindle’s display invisible. (Of course, it also saps the Nook’s battery far more rapidly: The Nook gets eight hours on a charge, while the Kindle can run for weeks.)

The Nookcolor isn’t a full-blown Android tablet–B&N calls it a “reader’s tablet,” and hasn’t given it access to the Android Market app store. But the company is launching a third-party app store of its own early next year. And if it catches on, the Nookcolor could be an intriguing alternative to much pricier Android tablets such as Samsung’s Galaxy Tab.

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Finally, an E-Reader in Living Color

By  |  Posted at 11:49 pm on Tuesday, November 23, 2010


For a long time, I’ve hoped that someone would build an e-reader in a Kindle-like form factor, but with a color LCD display–not because I was positive it’s a better way to go than E-Ink, but because I thought it was worth a try. Barnes & Noble’s Nookcolor is pretty much the e-reader I was thinking about–and I took it for a test drive for my latest Technologizer column on

The Nookcolor isn’t a Kindle killer: I think a lot of E-Ink fans aren’t going to be swayed by the idea of swapping a month of battery life and a glare-free screen for eight hours on a charge, color, and touch. But the Nookcolor has a lot to recommend it (along with a few glitches which I hope B&N will fix shortly–it’s been conscientious about releasing regular updates for the original Nook).

If the Nookcolor is a hit, will Amazon respond with a color-LCD Kindle? You never know, but the most obvious answer is: no, probably not. Last year, Jeff Bezos said a color Kindle was years off; the fact that the Kindle uses E-Ink is a defining aspect of its personality. It’s what makes a Kindle a Kindle, and my guess is that from this point out, e-reader buyers will get to pick from two very different approaches to e-readers. (On the other hand, it wouldn’t be a stunner if other players such as Sony tried LCD.)

While I was mulling over the subject of e-readers I also blogged at Techland on the fact that I do most of my e-reading on devices that aren’t actually e-readers–my iPhone, especially. I called that post “The Best E-Reader May Be No E-Reader at All.”


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Engadget’s Josh Topolsky has a Barnes & Noble Nookcolor. He doesn’t absolutely love it, but he does give it a generally upbeat review.

Posted by Harry at 10:03 am

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Nookcolor: The Third-Party Android App Story

By  |  Posted at 4:06 pm on Thursday, November 4, 2010


Barnes & Noble has been intimating that Android applications for the upcoming color version of its Nook e-reader will be different from those already downloadable from Google’s Android Market. But exactly how?  For one thing, people accessing Android apps on the Nookcolor tablet won’t necessarily even need to know–or care–anything about Android, explained Claudia Romanini, the head of Nook developer arm Nookdeveloper, in an interview this week.

Instead, developers creating apps for the Nook e-reader will be urged to build “reader-center apps that will blend in seamlessly with our reader’s tablet environment,” she told me.

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