Thinking Allowed

A blog to detail my work at QU.

A Nook Book

Posted By admin on November 2, 2009

I used to own an Amazon Kindle. This device appealed to me because (at times) I am an avid reader. The thought of being able to shop for books from the comfort of my living room and have them delivered right then appealed to me. It also would cut down on book clutter. A big drawback was the fact that you cannot lend books purchased from Amazon with the Kindle to friends.

Barnes and Noble’s new e-reader, the Nook, has taken care of that problem with a 14-day free lending system to friends. This makes me wonder, will the Nook (and other e-readers) kill the printed book?

The Nook

The Nook isn’t on the market yet. The first ones are expected to be shipped at the end of November and already this device is creating a buzz.

The Nook will be competing in the marketplace with Kindle and Sony’s Reader. Apple is also rumored to have an e-reader in the works. As stated in the blog, “It’s fascinating to watch these three powerful companies–the dominant bricks-and-mortar bookseller, the dominant online bookseller, and a long-dominate electronic industry player – compete in this new arena. “

Barnes and Noble is keeping with the general price point of under $10, which consumers appear to be willing to pay for ebooks.  As posted in the New York Times article, “Publishers are caught between authors who want to be paid high advances and consumers who believe they should pay less for a digital edition, largely because the publishers save on printing and shipping costs. But publishers argue that those costs, which generally run about 12.5 percent of the average hardcover retail list price, do not entirely disappear with e-books. What’s more, the costs of writing, editing and marketing remain the same.”

A Reuters article, “E-readers may not solve publisher woes yet,” states that publishers are hoping electronic reading devices will help halt their slide in sales.  “Content needs to expand beyond bestsellers,” said Ross Rubin at the NPD group.”Text books are a very good direction.”  However, the usability of the e-readers is still lacking. “But while most experts praise e-ink, a display technology that strives to mimic printed text, the capacity for colors, embedded links, search options and video is still lacking.”  These devices are “technologically not advanced enough for most content,” said Paul DeHart, president of BlueToad Inc, a digital publishing company, and do not yet make it worth the effort of lugging around another gadget.”

Headed to Class

At Ashburnham, Massachusetts Cushing Academy, headmaster Jim Tracy has replaced library books with Kindles in an effort to get kids reading again. The article “School chooses Kindle; are libraries for the history ‘books’?” printed in USA Today says that the school’s Library collection was barely being used. Now with the digital devices the “tiny school’s collection is growing from 20,000 books to millions”. Tracy says “he has hired more librarians to help students navigate the electronic stacks.”

“It was really to save libraries five, 10, 15 years down the road,” he says. “What the students are telling us is: ‘We’re not using the print books. You can keep giving them to us, but they’re just going to collect dust.’

The Impact of the Nook

There has been speculation for a while that digital books will hurt bookstores, but now consumer watchers are questioning whether the Nook will impact or coffee shops like Starbucks more.

According to the Barnes and Noble website “When you use your nook in a Barnes & Noble Bookstore, you can access exclusive content and special offers. “

According to a Blogging Innovation Blog by Steve McKee, Barnes and Noble may soon offer entire free ebooks while inside the physical store. He speculates “by offering free in-store content with the Nook, Barnes & Noble seems to clearly be saying that this is they place they want people to linger. And Since none of us can be in two places at one time, Starbucks and Barnes & Noble may increasingly butt heads.”

Usability Issues

As stated in our readings and videos this Module, interactive designers on the ebooks still need to improve usability and features of the products. In Designing for Interaction by D. Saffer we learn that there are four approaches to interactive design – User-centered design, activity-centered design, systems design and genius design.  Saffer states,” The best designers are those who can move between approaches, applying the best approach to the situaion, and sometimes applying multiple approaches even within a single project.”

I think the e-readers have addressed many of the system and user-centered designs issues.  The readers are able to deliver readable books in a device that is definitely manageable.  Maybe a tad too fragile, but definitely the Kindle 2 was an improvement over the original.  I think they need to now address the activity needs of the users such as the demand for color, video capability, better internet browsing capability, and book sharing in all the e-reading devices.

I personally returned my Kindle within the first month trial since I didn’t think that the money I spent ($359 at the time) was worth the features that the Kindle offered.  I put the money I saved into a Mac and an Ipod Touch, which allows me to access the books I bought on the Kindle through an application.  I look forward to seeing the path and advancements that happen to the e-readers in the future.

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3 Responses to “A Nook Book”

  1. admin says:

    An interesting blog popped up in my Google Reader today about an eBook reader from Spring Design which features a mini color monitor at the bottom of the device. It is called the Alex (no relation to our professor ;D).

    Just another step closer to a desirable e-reader.

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