Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Barnes & Noble Removes "LendMe" From Purchased Books

I just noticed several Nook e-books I have purchased in the past can no longer be lent out.  All three books from "The Hunger Games" trilogy series were originally tagged as lendable, and I have even lent them out to others using ebookfling.com .  Today I noticed that not only new purchases of these books do not have the "Lend Me" banner over the book cover image, but also books that were previously purchased with this feature have had the "Lend Me" option removed.

UPDATE: I just chatted with a B&N customer service rep.  I did not realize you can only lend a book once, even to different people. So services like ebookfling.com are great for sharing books from people you otherwise do not know, but you can only lend the book once.  I was hoping to "rack up" the credits for sharing popular books, but, alas, that will not be the case.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Nook Tablet: the Good, the Bad, and the Wishful Thinking

The Nook Tablet is now arriving in stores, 2 days earlier than originally announced.  I visited my local Barnes and Noble store today to get my hands on one and see what it could do.

The Good

B&N expanded the Nook area in the store, putting up divider walls to create a separate space within the store for viewing the Nook product line You could consider it a Nook nook (with my apologies to the 3 Stooges reference).  This is great way for people to actually try out the device prior to purchasing.

Now I already own the Nook Color, and from what I see the Nook Tablet does not have enough additional features for me to trade it in.  I did want to see how the new OS 1.4 update looked, and  I like what I saw from my brief visit.  The new book reader had 2 new features I have been waiting for: more font size choices and landscape mode for reading books.

The Bad

After looking at the settings to confirm the 1.4 OS version, I was quite shocked to see just 1 GB of free memory available for side loading files.  B&N modified the 8 GB Nook Color after its initial launch to limit side loading to 1GB, ensuring you will not run out of memory too quickly when purchasing content from B&N with the remaining memory.  Since the Tablet comes with 16 GB of memory (double the size of the original Nook), I would have thought the sideloading space would have increased significantly. But alas, no.  So with either the Nook Color or Tablet, you are limited to only 1 GB of memory for your external files.  If you want to download your MP3 library to enjoy on your Nook Tablet, you will probably need to buy a micro SD card, despite having 12GB of available memory sitting idle on your device.

The Wishful Thinking

From my standpoint, the built-in microphone on the Tablet serves no function.  I don't anticipate recording books for my sons to listen to (teenagers will probably frown on this type of technology anyway).  There needs to be more microphone-enabled apps available "for the rest of us".  Perhaps an IP phone app, Skype, or the like.  This would be a selling point against the Kindle Fire.

I was really hoping the 2nd generation of the Nook Color would include bluetooth.  It would have been a feature that could have made me trade up my Nook Color.  Maybe the 3rd generation will be the charm?

Lastly, I was really hoping the page turns on the 1.4 OS version would be like the B&N Android app, where the page is turned using a 3D page curl effect as the finger swipe is made.  It doesn't, instead using the familiar side to side page movement in past OS versions.  The case could be made that the Nook Color did not have enough horse power to do this graphically intensive process, but that argument does not hold up for the Nook Tablet.  With the Kindle Fire supporting this eye-candy feature, and side to side comparisons of the Nook Tablet and Kindle Fire are inevitable, it may be available in a future release.  But, that is just my wishful thinking.

Monday, November 14, 2011

I'm Back! (and other news)

It's been a while (actually, over 6 months), since my last post.  I seem to post more when I am either excited or angry at the e-reader market. I am actually both at the moment, so that could mean double the usual postings.

One item of interest today: There has been much talked about the pricing of the new Nooks: $249, $199 and $99 for the Nook Tablet, Color, and Simple Touch, respectively.  There has been nearly no discussion on the web about the new pricing for the B&N pre-owned/refurbished/used units.  B&N now sells these units directly on their website for a great price.  If you are looking for a great deal on a B&N device, you can't beat these prices.  The pre-owned Nook Color now sells for $149 directly on the B&N site, while the pre-owned Simple Touch will only set you back $79 (no ads either!).  We will probably see the used Nook Tablet models appear in about 6 months or so.  Price? I am guessing $199.


Sunday, April 24, 2011

Top 10 Things To Do While Waiting for the Nook Color Update

(with apologies to David Letterman).

# 10:Go to the Nook Color software update page and refresh the screen until the version number changes.

# 9:  Visit a B&N Store and ask a store employee when will the Nook Color run Flash.


# 8:  Visit an Apple Store and ask a store employee when will the iPad run Flash.

# 7:  Impress your friends by balancing a Nook Color on your head while exclaiming how well you can balance 100 virtual books on your head.

# 6:  Come up with a new title for "Fahrenheit 451" keeping virtual books in mind.

# 5:  Watch YouTube reruns of the Nook Color on the Home Shopping Network.

# 4:  Place your Nook Color under your pillow at night and check in the morning to see if the Nook fairy has installed the update (any money found is an extra bonus).

# 3:  Read the 1,200+ page "War and Peace" e-book.  If you finish the book before the update comes out, read the original Russian language version.

# 2:  Find a Kindle owner and reenact PC and Mac guy commercials (you are the Mac guy, of course)..

... and the #1 top thing to do while waiting for the Nook Color update is:

Root your Nook Color  (Murphy's Law # 892: An update will be become available immediately after rooting your Nook Color).

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Something Wonderful Happening in 2 Weeks?

Barnes and Noble has been relatively quiet on Nook Color updates since its release.  Even the Nook Developer site has not posted any news since its first and only post last October. So when will we see an app store? When will the next firmware be released? When will we get a Flash player?

Well, we may expect to hear something in the next 2 weeks. B&N has made a few statements about it. From the Nook Color developer FAQ:
Starting in early 2011, you will be able to submit your application for sale to millions of readers.
From a developer forum post by Ted Patrick, Nook Developer Evangelist at B&N:
We will update NOOK to support applications in Q1/2011. All applications that conform to the Android API 7 API will be compatible.
BTW, Ted Patrick's previous employer was Adobe (I wonder what he thinks about Flash on the Nook?).  Ted has also mentioned visiting Silicon Valley companies to drum up support for writing apps on the Nook.  Perhaps we will see a few more apps included in the next release.

On my calendar, the first quarter of 2011 ends on March 31, which is two weeks away.  . I hope to see something wonderful happening by then.

I understand how you feel. You see, it's all very clear to me now. The whole thing. It's wonderful.
From the movie, 2010

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Barnes & Noble Store of the Future

With the increase in sales of e-books and the sales decline of real books, the Barnes & Noble store of the future may resemble more like a coffee shop than a book store.  Take away the books and magazines from the current store, and you are left with a restaurant with a toys and games section.  I can see walking into this B&N "coffee shop", sitting down for a danish and drink while previewing a New York Times bestseller book on my Nook.  If I like it, I can buy it on the spot through my e-reader.

This could happen sooner rather than later.  On a recent visit to the local B&N store, I found the restaurant area was full of people reading on their Nooks and using their laptops. I had to wait 5 minutes for a table to free up. This area does appear to be popular with the customers and probably should be expanded for the increase in people bringing their Nooks.  B&N can hope these e-reader owners will continue to spend money from their Nook while drinking their cappuccino.  Also, the bankruptcy of Borders shows that a big book store without an e-book solution may no longer be a viable business. Time will tell.

How Many Nooks?

One fact that seems to be missing from both Amazon and Barnes & Noble press releases is the number of e-readers that have been sold.  Most facts are general (i.e., "more e-books have been sold than paperback books", "the number one seller is our e-reader"), but hard numbers are just not there.  Recently, however, Goldman Sachs analyst Matthew Fassler created some hard numbers when he forecasted 2.4 million Nooks will be sold this year, and more than 3 million in 2012. These are the first hard numbers I have seen for Nook sales, albeit they are estimates from an outside company.  Mr. Fassler also calculated that B&N has a 27% share of the e-book market, while Amazon as 58% and Apple 9%.  I am sure B&N's share jumped considerably when the Nook Color was released, which was less than 3 months ago.

With the announcement of Borders' bankruptcy today, it is even more clear how important the Nook has become for B&N, and is probably the key product line that will keep them from a similar fate.