Barnes & Noble, Plastic Logic tie-up – $9.99 PC eBooks

Barnes & Noble launched their eBooks Store today and had a few big, big announcements -

  1. 700,000 books.
  2. Free public domain books from Google.  
  3. $9.99 new releases and bestsellers (although the press release says “hundreds of” so it might not extend to all books).
  4. Exclusive partner of the Plastic Logic eReader. 
  5. Readable on PC and Mac.
  6. Readable on iPhone, iPod Touch, and Blackberry.

Here is my quick take on the news and on the PC eReader application from Barnes & Noble –

Barnes & Noble eBookStore

The Barnes and Noble eBookstore looks very well thought-out. The big features are -

  1. 700K books. That is pretty huge, although the number is helped by free public domain books from Google.
  2. Google seems to be doing all it can to hurt Amazon – First helping Sony, and now B&N.
  3. PC and Mac Support  adds a whole new dimension to the game.
  4. Blackberry support is great.
  5. The iPhone App was actually announced a few days earlier – B&N obviously must be looking at how Amazon has cornered the iPhone market with Kindle for iPhone and Stanza.
  6. They have an eBooks under $5 section – it’s not working yet.
  7. You can buy ebooks from any of the supported devices.
  8. Free Samples are offered for every eBook.

Overall this is a huge, huge move by Barnes & Noble.

Suddenly the Kindle Store has a viable competitor. Amazon will be forced to add Kindle on PC support.

Barnes & Noble partnership with Plastic Logic eReader

Its interesting to see B&N partner with Plastic Logic (and Google) -

  1. Makes perfect strategic sense.
  2. What they say -

    A strategic commerce and content partnership with Plastic Logic, whose eReader device is especially designed for business professionals. Barnes & Noble will power the eBookstore for the Plastic Logic eReader device. The ultra thin 8.5 x 11 inch wireless eReader is slated to debut in early 2010.

  3. It hints that the Plastic Logic eReader won’t be as open a device as we thought since B&N claim it’ll be the ’exclusive’ eBookstore provider.  
  4. Plastic Logic’s eReader + B&N’s PC and iPhone eReader + B&N’s Store + Google’s Free Books together make a formidable foe for Amazon’s Kindle.

Out of nowhere, 3 of the Kindle’s competitors have combined. It also indicates that B&N’s eBooks and Google’s free books will be made available on an Apple eReader whenever it comes out.  

Credit Suisse expects eReaders to explode, so Amazon should expect more and more competition -

E-readers are on track to penetrate about a third of the U.S. adult book-reading population in five years, up from only 1 percent penetration in 2008, according to a study published today by Credit Suisse. 

The installed base of e-readers could soar from 1 million in 2008 to 32 million in 2014.

B&N eReader for PC

It’s actually pretty impressive for an obvious rushed product -

  1. It lets you change fonts and font sizes. The reading was easy.   
  2. You can add notes and bookmarks.
  3. You can add highlights and there are 4 pens so you can do different color highlights.
  4. Auto-Scroll feature for hands-free reading.  
  5. There is speed reading (of sorts) using Rapid Serial Visualization Presentation.
  6. It lets you create Book-Shelves – the poor man’s folders. However it’s more than the Kindle has.
  7. You can view two pages at a time.
  8. You can create your own reading themes.
  9. It’s rather painful to use because some things can’t be done using the mouse.

It’s a good first effort.

Barnes & Noble Conference Call – July 20th, 2009

  1. Some technology is from acquisition of another company.
  2. No Sony or Kindle support as those are proprietary platforms.
  3. Support for more devices over the next few months.  
  4. ebooks excluded from Membership Program.
  5. eBooks have grown a lot from 1% (via their ownership of Fictionwise).
  6. Over a million eBooks in the near future.
  7. Google Public Domain books are not accessible on the Kindle (as of today) – Actually Amazon will convert Google PDF Books for you.
  8. Not saying whether they will sell the Plastic Logic eReader at their stores.
  9. Not saying anything about textbooks – educational and digital titles.

5 Responses

  1. Fascinating! Do we know if the e-books will be in ePub format, or will they use another proprietary format? (Perhaps you said and I overlooked it, but didn’t see mention of it)

    • it seems to be using .pdb format.
      Update: That’s palm database format used by eReader.com (was owned by Fictionwise, and now owned by B&N). It has DRM and it cannot be converted (as far as my research shows) to another format supported by Kindle or Sony.
      Normally .pdb to .txt conversions are doable. However, not for drm’ed versions like the eReader .pdb.

      You can of course copy-paste an entire book’s text from the B&N eReader on PC.

  2. […] talked about the B&N eReader for PC functionality earlier […]

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