Kindle, Barnes and Noble eReader – Rumor Review

Comparing Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble eReader (Plastic Logic eReader) is interesting – especially when its based on reports and rumors from WSJ and NYT. 

The post will be updated with new information after the Barnes and Noble eReader release event on Oct 20, 2009.

What are the rumors about Barnes & Noble eReader plans?

The suspense is killing me.

  1. The New York Times has the scoop on a Barnes and Noble eReader launch event at Chelsea Piers in New York on Oct 20. The invitations claim “a major event in our company’s history”.
  2. The October 20th, 2009 Barnes and Noble eReader release date has been reported by Multiple Sources so it’s quite likely to be true.
  3. NY Times also reports that there will be a ‘lending/sharing model’ (B&N is discussing number of loans with Publishers) and there will be WiFi. Those would both be killer features.
  4. The WiFi is supposed to go hand in hand with free WiFi at all Barnes & Noble stores and help create a browse physical books, buy them on your Barnes and Noble eReader experience. Apparently 14 million people walk into B&N stores every day.
  5. The Wall Street Journal reports the device will have a 6″ screen with touch capabilities, will run on AT&T’s network, and that the Barnes and Noble eReader would start selling as soon as next month.
  6. Gizmodo claim that the Barnes and Noble eReader will run on Google’s Android OS. Which would make sense given Google are offering it one million free books – Quid pro Quo.  
  7. There are also claims (Engadget covers it well and the comments are amusing) that Spring 2010 will see a color eReader from Barnes & Noble – everyone is assuming it will be from Plastic Logic. This is based on a B&N representative who seems rather carried away by the joy of being interviewed – so it’s not that reliable.

What are we likely to get at the Barnes and Noble eReader release?

What we’ll probably have is –

  1. A $250 price.
  2. A 6″ screen with touch capabilities.
  3. A lending feature that lets you lend out your book to 1 or 2 friends a year. Perhaps just the first half of the book plus you lose the ability to read it yourself.
  4. AT&T wireless and a connection to the Barnes & Noble eBook Store. No Free Internet.
  5. WiFi with Free Internet connection at all Barnes & Noble Stores (to encourage readers to visit) plus wherever you can get Free WiFi.
  6. International Travel capabilities – Kindle International being released first means B&N will probably try and swing something like free International downloads or at least cheaper ones.
  7. An Android OS with some cool features (not sure what besides Folders).
  8. A pre-loaded package of some portion (perhaps 10,000) of the free Google public domain books.

A color eReader release on Oct 20 is unlikely – if that happens (and the price is reasonable) they clean house. A Spring release is possible, although by then there will be Apple’s iReader and Kindle 3 to contend with.

Kindle, Barnes and Noble battle on Killer Features

If the B&N eReader is as advertised we will be looking at a fight between devices with significantly unique, value adding killer features –

  1. Amazon Kindle comes in with Free Internet Access, the $9.99 price point for books, the widest range of books, the Read To Me feature and wireless downloads.  
  2. Barnes and Noble eReader comes in with Sharing of Books, WiFi support and free WiFi in stores, a Touchscreen, an Android OS (if done well), free books from Google, and wireless downloads.

While the free books are available for the Kindle too, a conversion is needed (Calibre or email to Amazon). The big thing is that Sharing of Books and WiFi and Android OS are all things Kindle does not have.

Touchscreen is only worthwhile if it does not mess up reading. Sony could not – However, if the Barnes and Noble eReader is from Plastic Logic it might be able to get Touch and great readability in one package.

Which one out of Kindle, Barnes and Noble is better becomes a personal preference. However, the lending feature and WiFi support would turn a two horse race (kindle, sony reader) into a three horse one.

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