Amazon has been lazy, has been slow. The Kindle was introduced with the dinosaurs it seems, yet only recently was it upgraded to include countries other than the US. Fantastic, because I would finally be able to take my book-skimming habits with me – well, not so fast, the damned thing STILL does not work in Pakistan, where we ride to work on camels and use rocks to light fire and use pigeons for emails. Putting the ‘US-is-the-world’ bias that runs through pretty much any high-tech company, let’s see if the new Barnes and Noble e-reader will give Amazon a run for its money.

Short answer: Hell yes.

On with the long answer now:

There are quite a few e-readers in the market, just like there probably are a lot of pet detectives in the market as well, but just like Ace Venture is the best pet detective there is because he is the only pet detective that you know of, Amazon’s Kindle is the best e-reader out there. Which was good, but only for Amazon’s bottom line. From a long list of gripes that people had with the Kindle, to the utter lack of choices in the e-reader market, the average consumer was sorta stuck. Not anymore, as Nook is here to eat Kindle’s lunch, dinner and the midnight snacks to boot.

Nook-techSpecs_dimensionsAs I mentioned earlier, it was quite odd that no one was messing with Amazon’s Kindle. The Kindle, with all it’s flaws and follies, was the de facto market leader in digital book reader (e-readers). If you dig a little deeper, you will see that there are many e-readers in the market, with Sony even jumping in the fray. Sony’s attempt, at best, can be seen as a half-hearted foot in the door – which in the long run means a good thing (a good thing for the consumers of course).  Bottom-line: Kindle had no competition till Barnes and Noble’s Nook came along.

So Where Does Nook beat Kindle?

Everywhere, really.

  • Nook has a better display thing going for them
  • They have color as well
  • You can browse through thumbnails of books to select which one to read, which you just can’t in Kindle.
  • It is the second smaller touch screen at the bottom of Nook that lets you have all the above mentioned features – and you guessed it, Kindle doesn’t have any separate ‘navigation’ screen.
  • You can share your books with your friends. The more common term for book readers is ‘lending’ by the way. So you can ‘lend’ a book from your collection to your friend (who has an e-reader, or not) for 14 days. And as any avid book reader will tell you, 14 days is enough time to go through any good read. Kindle just doesn’t know what we just talked about, so Nook wins there as well.
  • According to Nook’s Houdini-inspired website, Nook also offers you 500,000 free e-book titles to download and read. Heck, that’s not a good thing folks. There are a million books out there, you have to select the ones that are good which is a charm for a book reader itself, this selection and discovery process. 500-freakin’-000 is just too big a number to inspire me really, as the figure shows that the it’s more like a project Gutenberg than a pruned collection of readable stuff.

But it can’t all be that bad for Kindle, can it? They have been in the market for so long and have the early bird’s advantage, right? Well, they should have. What they got going for themselves is:

  • Kindle has been in the game for a much longer time than Nook, that should have amounted to some pretty smart upgrades on Kindle’s part, but I don’t know if you can call the new Kindle upgrades that smart. (so, this is not really a good thing now, is it?)
  • Kindle is now globally available, whereas Nook seems to be only available to the US public. That is a clear winner for Kindle. (although the camel-riding Neanderthals of Pakistan still don’t get the goods from Kindle, akkhh!) – but remember folks, the jump from US-only to so-called global will take a lot shorter time for Nook, you can bet your old ‘global’ maps on it.
  • I think that is pretty much about it for Kindle’s good points as compared to Nook’s. Anyone here cares to remind me about any other points that I have missed out, please do so in the comments below. Nook’s dubbed as the Kindle Killer, after all.

But the competition is going to get much tougher

I think that competition will not be from more e-readers in the market, but from more ‘suitable’ tablet PCs in the market. The crossover from a digital tablet (such as MS Courier, or TechCrunch’s Crunchpad for example) to a digital book reader is quite slim in fact. One thing can safely be said: if you end up owning a PC tablet (which, if you are reading this, you probably will before Eid next year :P ), you will not probably invest in a Kindle or a Nook. Why would you? Can the companies making the digital tablets be stupid enough to not incorporate a simple tweak of their software to cater for the large e-readers’ market? Of course they would (and they should). But always remember, some great companies can do greatly stupid things e.g. the D-SLR market was, for ages, without a camera that can shoot a video! The point-and-shoot tribe would laugh at the ‘photographer’ with an EOS dangling from his neck, that “you can’t record a 5 second video even if your life depended on it!” Thankfully, the latest (and only the latest) from DSLR manufacturers are incorporating this ‘feature’ in their cameras.

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