Real reason Press prefer Nook over Kindle

Late last night it finally struck me – the real reason the press want to push the nook, and favor it over the Kindle.

The Kindle doesn’t fit in with the image the press have of ‘successful product’.

The Kindle literally messes with their cognitive understanding of what determines success.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that both the Nook and the Kindle have significant strengths and that one of them has over 8,000 actual customer reviews at Amazon and the other has zero customer reviews (so far).

Take a look at my Kindle Vs Nook review. Kindle and Nook are actually very close with the Kindle edging ahead because it just added PDF support.

Why then are the Press favoring the Nook so much?

The Press and main stream bloggers have never used or even touched an actual Nook. B&N didn’t let anyone even touch the Nook at the release event.

The Press still feel so strongly that the Nook is better than the Kindle because –  

The Kindle doesn’t fit in with the image the Press have in their mind of a sexy, hit product that is open and benevolent and does 20 different things. 

In their hearts and minds a lot of the Press and technical bloggers can’t understand how such an ‘anti-sexy, anti-open product, only does one thing and does it right’ device could ever succeed. That’s why every half-baked eReader has been labeled a kindle killer.

This irrational need to see the Kindle fail is the key reason the press love the Nook and it just snowballs into a ton of anti-Kindle articles.

  1. The Press don’t get that an eReader is for reading.
  2. A lot of the Press haven’t really used the Kindle. Plus they are assuming it’ll not evolve.
  3. They’ve never used the Nook so they can romanticize it. Plus, they’re projecting future benefits onto the Nook.
  4. Amazon scares them a lot and since they can’t understand Amazon and the Kindle they secretly fear it.

Let’s look at each of these in depth.

The Press doesn’t really get that an eReader is for reading

At some level they don’t even like the concept of a device for reading and only reading.

Here are a sampling of reasons for favoring the Nook -

  1. It has a color screen and that allows for color book covers and potentially even video.
  2. It has Android and that means games and apps and video could be added.
  3. It has WiFi and that means it would be easy to support files bigger than ebooks.

There’s an underlying theme here – The Kindle is a stupid little device that does nothing except reading. The Nook will let you do a lot more than just read.

The Press love the Nook because it lets them fight the cognitive migraine they’re having – that people could actually want a device for reading and reading alone.

A lot of Bloggers and Journalists who pick the Nook over the Kindle haven’t really used the Kindle

They really haven’t.  

Consider Business Insider’s #1 reason the Nook is better than the Kindle – It’s cost-effective.

at $260 it’s the same price as the Kindle 2, but you’re getting so much more for your money: Wi-Fi, native PDF support, an SD slot and that crazy second screen makes it seem out of the Kindle’s league

Lets consider each of these -

  • WiFi? The Nook doesn’t even have a browser – all you can do is browse and buy books. The Kindle has Free Internet and Free Wikipedia.
  • Native PDF Support – This was a valid point. However, the Kindle added this.
  • SD slot – This is somewhat valid. However, 1.4 GB of free space for ebooks is a ton of space. The SD card seems important if you’re expecting to watch movies on your eReader, which reviewers are.

Things that affect ‘cost-effectiveness’ and which BI misses -

  1. Cost of eBooks. While bestsellers are $9.99 in both stores, when you look across all books, Kindle books are cheaper than Nook Books. Anyone who actually reads books would factor that in.
  2. Free Internet – You can check email, browse news, use twitter and do a lot of other things for free.

Business Insider took one of the Kindle biggest advantages i.e. more value for money, and turned it into a Nook advantage.

How can you turn a blind eye to Free Internet and cheaper ebook prices? It’s easy if you’ve never really bought kindle books and never checked the news from your kindle.

Romanticizing the Nook and Projecting Future Benefits on to it

While sites like NPR paint a very balanced picture,  Wired and Business Insider and lots of other sites add flourishes to the Nook, including potential benefits in the distant future -

  1. Lending - Lots of talk of lending book to friends.
  2. Sharing – Sharing across devices – PC, iPhone, Mac, Blackberry. 
  3. Android - How there could be games and apps and streaming music.
  4. WiFi – streaming content, VoIP. BI actually write -

    Wi-Fi is a killer feature not for what it does right now, but for what it could allow the Nook to do in the future.  

Again, let’s consider what these really are -

  • Lending – This is the ‘killer feature’ of the Nook. To be able to lend an ebook once, for 14 days, and not having access to it while it’s lent. If people really consider this a killer feature that’s fine. However, please do mention the ‘lend once’ and 14 day limits.
  • Support on iPhone, PC – Amazon added Kindle for PC  and will add Kindle for Mac in a few months. It was an advantage – it isn’t any more.
  • Android – Nook doesn’t even have a browser. However, sometime in the future, Android will enable some feature completely unrelated to reading and will destroy the Kindle. Beautiful.
  • WiFi – Again, this is all about future this and some day that. They mention VoIP. At what point did we start discussing phones instead of eReaders?

BI expects people who read books to pick Nook over the Kindle because there’s a slight chance that, at some unknown future date, the Nook might support VoIP.

This is just excessively unrealistic wishful thinking.

Nook doesn’t have a browser, doesn’t have Free Internet Access like the Kindle, and yet suddenly it’ll start supporting streaming content and VoIP.

Being scared of Amazon and the Kindle

The Kindle is an illustration of a simple concept – Meet the needs of your customers.

All the best features of the Kindle revolve around reading.

  1. Focus on reading.  
  2. Add-on features for improving the reading experience.
  3. Ease of Use.
  4. Convenience of buying books.

It’s a device that helps make reading better – in lots of big and small ways.

This really annoys the press, especially the technical bloggers, because

  • They can’t imagine focusing on reading at the expense of cool things like games and color touchscreens.
  • To make things worse Amazon does continuous, incremental improvements (the underlying kaizen philosophy) rather than hit home runs.

The Kindle might be the anti-iPhone. Even worse, the Kindle might be the anti-Googlephone. 

It really scares journalists and technical bloggers because it sacrifices supposedly critical features -

  1. Sexiness.  
  2. Coolness. 
  3. Catering to the people who despise DRM.
  4. Catering to the people who don’t understand competition and want the #1 company in a space to help its competitors.

All for some meaningless thing called reading which no one ever does anymore.

No one reads – Steve Jobs and Sergey Brin couldn’t be wrong.

The journalists are right and the Kindle is bound to fail – the only times we read any more are when we read emails, read blogs, read news sites, read for work, and read for school.

9 Responses

  1. Nook is the hands down winner if you live in, or vacation in, a small town. My kindle doesn’t get a wireless signal anywhere in my county! Nook works with a somewhat better wireless company and always has the option of using wifi if you can’t get a signal from the cell phone company.

    Anyone want to buy a slightly used Kindle?

  2. For me, it comes down to cost, size, book availability, and openness. Nook and Kindle cost the same. Nook is smaller (though a bit thicker), and the mock-ups at B&N make it feel like a device I can pack comfortably in my day bag. (I realize the Sony Reader Pocket is even smaller, but so is the screen–a drawback in my book).

    They both have a decent online store and access to NYT bestsellers, other popular titles, and free alternatives. Yes, books are cheaper at the Kindle store than for nook. But most of the material I’ll be reading are titles I already own or can procure in PDF or ePub format.

    (Of course, I realize I’m taking a leap of faith in favoring nook, seeing as how no one has even held one in their hands, let alone review it.)

  3. chris, right re the leap of faith, but attractiveness has always been the key when it comes to choices like that.

    switch11, really insightful writeup.

  4. For an international user both options suck. The Kindle is available internationally but (1) you pay an additional $2.30 for each book (2) there are no (or almost no) Dutch books available. The major Dutch booksellers mainly use the ePub format, and the biggest online bookseller (bol.com) exclusively delivers ePub. So the Kindle should at least support ePub. The Nook is simple: it isn’t sold outside the USA. Even if you buy one when you happen to be in the USA or let one of your friends buy one you have a problem if you need support.
    So you are better off buying one of the other brands.

  5. I think you hit the nail on the head about the whole “reading” thing. I am a devout Kindle user and all the so-called extras mean nothing to me. That’s why I have a laptop.

  6. The origional palm was nothing but a personal calander, and look at cell phones. Yes it is about reading, but if I’ve got something my hand in bed at night, it would be nice to be able to check my email, etc. I don’t expect my ebook reader to replace my computer, just like my ipod touch doesn’t replace it. I do however check my email, play some games and READ while listening to my music. When I’m having a picnic and laying underneath a tree reading, I don’t want to have to lug out my laptop or netbook. I only want to carry one thing. Well two, I will always have my ipod with me.

    It’s always been about coolness and coolness has and always be something that is percieved and not something that is real or truelly meserable.

    So untill someone solves the battery problem with protable devices, I am looking for something that I can do other things with.

    But I admit I want my ultimare hitchikes guide. :) all in one box.

  7. Thanks for this article. For me, the ONLY benefit to the nook over the kindle is the epub compatibility. But I feel comfortable that the powers that be at Amazon, who you have mentioned are trying to do one thing and do it well, will figure out how to meet customer demands of transportability.

    The color screen on the Nook means nothing to me; I don’t need to see color images of book covers. Nor do I need to watch videos (I have my iPhone for that). The book lending thing is waaay overhyped.

    I am confident that I purchased the product (Kindle) that will keep up with customer demand in the area that I purchased the product for: reading.

  8. Atleast this review finally sheds some light on the difference between these two products. Every review I have seen just says how wonderful the Nook is. I really just want to get the best product that will allow me to read books easier.

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