Has the Kindle Killed the Nook eReader?

While the Nook line is clearly among the most popular eReaders ever to hit stores, arguably second only to the Kindle, it seems that the expense of keeping current has proven too much for Barnes & Noble.  They recently announced that there is an interest in breaking off the Nook and its associated business from the company as a whole.  There is no real word yet as to what the future of the eReading line will be, as things are still being explored at the moment, but B&N is blaming recent greater than expected losses on their investments in the Nook (especially the Nook Simple Touch which has completely failed to meet sales expectations) and as such seems to have good reason to be dropping it.  The big question for users will probably have to be whether this is actually a positive even for Amazon.  There are good reasons to be skeptical and hope that somebody comes along willing to pick up the expenses.

Nobody would really mind always being able to know which eReader is the best to buy, of course.  If all that is really left for users in the US is the Kindle, it makes things easier at the store.  The lack of competition that such an arrangement relies upon, though, is problematic.  Look at how things stand now simply from a hardware standpoint.  The Nook Simple Touch, while tied to what I personally would consider the less compelling platform, is definitely the superior device.  The Kindle Touch is nice and has a few advantages of its own that make it a close race, but the lack of physical page turn buttons and the light color of the case both work against it.  You wouldn’t think something as simple as the color would have such a huge effect on perceptions, but look at all of the complaints that have come up about contrast for the new Kindles despite having essentially identical screens when measured carefully.  That said, neither would have gotten to where they are today so fast if there hadn’t been the steady trumping of each model from either company as it appeared.

Demand, fortunately, has never been higher.  This means that there is likely to be some other interested party willing to pick up the Nook line should Barnes & Noble give up.  In a way this would be a particularly positive change since it would introduce the possibility of finally seeing an international release of the currently US-only product.  Booksellers tend to welcome any advantage that will help them keep afloat despite competition from Amazon, so finding sales partners wouldn’t be particularly difficult given the proper incentives and marketting.

Ideally I would love to see Google or Kobo pick up where B&N leaves off.  Not many other companies besides Apple have both the media and hardware expertise necessary to keep up with the Kindle and just selling what has been developed so far without developing new products would be the end of the line.  This assumes that the eReading line is done as far as B&N is concerned, but things increasingly point that way.  We’ll see where things go over the course of the next couple quarters, but time will tell.

Audible Offers Many Advantages Including A $14 Kindle

Do you like reading?  Do you like audiobooks?  Would it be useful to combine these two book consumption methods into one convenient package? If you’re answering ‘yes’ a lot here, it’s probably a good time to look at Audible and the Kindle.  While it isn’t precisely a new offer, at the moment you can pick up a new Kindle w/ Special Offers for just $14 when you sign up for a year of Audible.com’s audiobooks at $14.95 per month.

Audible is probably the best place I have found so far to grab audiobooks, at least in terms of selection and reliability.  While on occasion I have found specific books with better readings elsewhere, I have yet to be unhappy with anything I’ve found through the site and in general they provide the best.  Their monthly plans include one or two audiobooks per month, with a small number of rollover opportunities if you want to skip a month or save up for newer books being released at the same time.  Technically they also do have annual bulk options for 12 or 24 books at a time, but that tends to be a bit much to digest all at once.

In addition to getting access to a selection of over 85,000 audiobooks, signing up through the banner in the Kindle Store will provide a coupon code good for $100 off of a selection of devices.  The Kindle w/ Special Offers is probably the best deal of the bunch, but there are others including other Kindles up to the Kindle DX, a range of Apple iProducts, and the occasional GPS device.  I’m going out of my way to specifically push the Kindle connection because the integration of the Kindle Store with Audible.com has made it amazingly simple to get everything working perfectly.  You can also, of course, transfer your Audible purchases to your iPhone, computer, or even burned CD.  The latter option is especially useful for long drives, I’ve found.

What made this at all worth noting right now, besides simply a desire to highlight the advantages that this deal, and Audible in general, provides to Kindle owners new and old, is the recent stir over the pseudo-children’s book, Go The F–k To Sleep by Adam Mansbach.  In addition to being a source of cathartic entertainment to many parents, babysitters, teachers, etc., and of course a source of outrage for the uptight, Go The F–k To Sleep stands as an example of the sort of success that internet fame and word of mouth can bring an otherwise small production.  A few copies of the book found themselves on popular filesharing networks and the buzz that this generated had it a number one spot on the Amazon lists before it was even released.

For now, Audible account-holders can get a copy of this book read quite effectively by Samuel L. Jackson for free as long as the limited time offer holds out. I wouldn’t say that this alone is incentive enough to spend a year paying $14.95/month, but put it together with 12 professional audiobooks and a nearly free Kindle and you’ve got quite the deal.

Audible Incentives

There are a lot of good reasons to pick up a Kindle.  It’s neat to read, occasionally very useful for its ability to be a portable internet device, and it saves on effort and potential injury when you compare it to the hundreds or thousands of paperbacks you might otherwise have to carry down a flight of stairs on moving day.  One of the less talked-about uses, however, is as a vessel for audiobooks.

Having worked with the Kindle while helping out students with learning disorders, I can tell you that this is a really useful feature.  It’s also proven helpful with an elderly relative of mine who sometimes has trouble even with the device’s largest font sizes, but who still really loves her books.  The Text-to-speech feature isn’t bad, though it can trip over some words in odd ways sometimes.  I personally prefer to go with actual narrated book readings.  It adds something that, if you’re forced or inclined to be listening to a book rather than reading it yourself in the first place, helps significantly with personal immersion.

Since I’m sure there are those of you out there who agree with me, as there are certainly those who find my position ridiculous, I figured it was worth pointing out the current incentive for people still on the fence about the usefulness of eReaders.  For the moment, Amazon is offering a discount of $100 off their device if you sign up for a year of Audible.com membership.  I don’t really know how limited a time this offer is, but I’d guess not terribly.  It’s been around a while.  I personally consider it a worthwhile investment if you’re interested in audiobooks.  Audible provides good prices on good readings of good books.  What more can you ask, really?  Chances are that if you’ve read this far into the post, you’re interested in audiobooks anyway.  Might as well get a discount on your Kindle and a new source for your reading all at once, right?