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Tag: nook tablet

Reading Manga On The Nook Color

Viz manga on Nook Color Tablet

Viz manga on the Nook Color looks pretty good!

Honestly, I was not a big fan of the 7 inch tablet. That screen size is just too small for most of what I do with my 10 inch iPad. So when I learned that Viz manga was available for the Nook Tablet and the Nook Color, my first question was, how readable is that going to be?

Viz has yet to support panel mode viewing for its manga on the iPad, but the large screen of the device makes that unnecessary. And while I have enjoyed manga on my eInk based Nook, I found that often the bottom edge of the page is cut off and smaller text can be a challenge to read. So how would this play out on a 7 inch screen?

The short answer is, wonderfully! I bought Fushigi Yûgi: Genbu Kaiden, Volume 1 by Yuu Watase, to read on my wife’s Nook Color. The Nook Color has the same size display screen as the Nook Tablet, so my observations should be valid it too.

The art work looked great and the text was quite readable. The smaller screen is only evident for double page spreads. You can turn the Nook to landscape orientation to see the full image, but it scales down a lot leaving  a fairly large black border. And you can tap to zoom anything you want to get a closer look at which came in handy for some of the author’s notes.

So if you love Viz manga, and don’t have the budget for an iPad, the Nook Color ($169) or Nook Tablet ($199) are great alternatives. And both Nooks can add up to 32GB of additional storage via microSD card which is important if you’re reading a lot of multi-megabyte graphic novels like manga. This expandability gives the Nook tablets a decisive edge over the Kindle Fire for this use case. That, and the fact that Viz manga is not available in the Kindle store right now.

Viz Manga Now On Nook Tablet/Color

One Piece on the Nook TabletI was pleasantly surprised today by an email from Viz proclaiming the arrival of Viz Manga such as One Piece, Naruto, and others on the Nook. Viz manga has been available on their web site and the Apple iPad for a while now. The iPad makes an especially good platform for reading manga with what I think is the perfect sized display. So I really wasn’t expecting to see Viz support the Nook.

I might also add that the email seemed to imply that the eInk Nook might also be supported. However a quick visit to the Barnes & Noble web site put that notion to rest. The site clearly indicates that Viz manga titles require the Nook Tablet or Nook Color with software version 1.4. And don’t get any ideas about reading these titles in the Nook reader software either. I tried reading a sample in the Nook reader on my iPad and Mac only to be informed that the title was not supported there.

Viz Manga on Nook Tablet

Popular Viz manga comes to the Nook Tablet and Nook Color. Sorry, none for eInk Nook!

Honestly, I cannot see any advantage to Viz in locking these Nook titles to the hardware like that. The primary beneficiary would be Barnes & Noble if the availability of Viz titles drives some Nook Tablet sales. The price drop to match the Kindle Fire, a price point that seems to be costing Apple at least a few iPad sales, along with some compelling content may be just the thing readers need to give the Nook color tablets another  look. Especially the younger, manga reading demographic who can’t afford iPads. And I might add that Viz manga is not yet available on the Kindle Fire.

Hopefully we’ll see some joint marketing from Barnes & Noble and Viz to promote this like crazy!

Is the Sun Setting On the Nook?

NooksetAgainst the backdrop of Amazon Kindle Fire sales that may have exceeded 5 million units last quarter, Barnes & Noble made statements last week that implied they were seeking to spinoff the Nook division. All said, Barnes & Noble may not have the resources needed to grow the Nook business into a profitable competitor to the Kindle.

Ironically, many credit the Nook and eBook sales with helping Barnes & Noble avoid the fate that befell long time competitor Borders last year. It’s hard to see exactly how they would benefit from spinning off the Nook. It’s believed that both Amazon and Barnes & Noble sell their eReaders at a loss, intending to make up for that by profits on the content sold through that hardware. It makes sense that Barnes & Noble would want to escape the loss making part of the equation, but what partner would want to pick that up?

Much of the popularity of the Kindle Fire has been ascribed to its $199 price point. This low entry price is credited with a small decline in iPad sales in December. And it seems likely that despite some quality and usability issues, the Fire will take the number 2 tablet position behind the iPad. Again, one of the reasons Amazon can do this is that their profit comes from content sales on the Fire. A hardware only tablet maker has to make a profit on the hardware itself, which may not be possible at a $199 price point, or even the $249 of the Nook Tablet. If that is true, then Barnes & Noble will have a hard time finding a partner with the deep pockets needed to take that kind of risk.

Then what is the point of the announcement? Is this some tasty bait being dangled before the likes of Google perhaps? While Google already has an eReader tablet, it has not been a great success, nor has their eBooks store relative to Amazon and Barnes & Noble. The Nook Tablet is powered by Google’s Android operating system, and is arguably one of the best Android tablets on the market. A Google Barnes & Noble partnership could be profitable for both and give publishers a viable counter balance against Amazon. Still, it’s hard to see this happening. And in the absence of additional resources, the sun may be setting on the Nook far too soon.

Runners in Different Races: Amazon Fire vs iPad

As expected, Black Friday sales of the Kindle Fire were very good and some analyst project that Amazon will sell 4 to 5 million Fire tablets before the end of the year. While there have been some indications that sales have cooled a bit, right now there’s no reason to believe that the Fire is going away any time soon.

The thing I find most interesting about the news I see is the continuing comparison to the iPad. Many stories cast the Kindle Fire as a potential “iPad killer” when clearly the hardware and software indicate a different target. Amazon’s new tablet is first and foremost, a Kindle. It’s an eReader first and was probably initially intended to be a response to the Nook Color than the iPad. As I’ve ranted here before, the Kindle Fire was made for book lovers making the initial move into digital. The Fire and iPad are horses running different races. If anything, over the long term, the lower spec’d Fire is more likely to drive iPad sales as many Fire users get hooked on digital media and seek out a more capable tablet still compatible with most of the media they’ve already bought.

It’s too early to tell if the Fire has made a significant dent in iPad sales, but it does look like it has claimed at least one victim as Dell has recently dropped its own 7 inch tablet. Dell has always been pretty quick to drop products that have no long term profit potential, so this move speaks volumes. As for the Nook, Barnes & Noble has been claiming good sales and a doubling of its Nook business since last year. We won’t really know if the Nook tablet has gained any traction until Barnes & Noble’s next quarterly report.

Competition is generally a good thing for the consumer, so I hope the Nook tablet won’t fall victim to the Fire too soon. However, the days of other 7 inch tablets that lack strong ties to eBook and media stores may be numbered.

New Nook Tablet Plays With Fire At High Price

Barnes & Noble unveiled their new Nook Tablet today, boasting higher specs than Amazon’s Kindle Fire in nearly every measure, including price. The new Nook weighs in at $249 versus $199 for Amazon’s tablet. Barnes & Noble also announced immediate price cuts of the current Nook Color to $199 and the Nook Simple Touch to $99.


Sometimes Less Is More

Clearly, these moves are in response to Amazon which makes the higher price of the new Nook rather puzzling. Even more puzzling given that anyone who’s been watching the iPad vs. everyone else tablet wars has already seen this movie played out before. Barnes & Noble calls the new Nook a better value than the Kindle Fire because it has a faster CPU, more system memory and data storage. And they’re right, in a rationale world, the higher spec’d, better performing tablet should command a higher price. Consumers should flock to it, right?

But isn’t that what a number of tablet makers claimed when they went into battle against Apple’s iPad? They offered tablets with more features, raw processor speed , and memory than the iPad. And some of them could play Flash videos and games too which the iPad still cannot do. This greater performance came at a greater price than the base iPad which was entirely reasonable being a better value. But in the end, most of these tablets were utter market disasters. Even the most successful of them have scarcely made a dent in the market share of Apple’s iPad.

Consumers are looking for value, but that doesn’t always correspond to the better hardware. Amazon has an enormous media and online retail data infrastructure to plug the Kindle Fire into. This is entirely analogous to the integrated ecosystem that Apple has built around iOS devices. When you buy an iPad, buying movies, music, and apps is drop dead easy. If Amazon produces a similar user experience with the Fire, the higher spec’d Nook won’t even get a chance to play. Sometimes less is more.

It is good that Barnes & Noble seems to have gained an ally in Netflix, but launching a new tablet at $50 more than the latest from the Amazon juggernaut could be a fatal mistake. Techies love the faster hardware, but they are not the market that is at stake here, nor are the people happily using iPads and other full function tablets. The real market consists of that larger, aging population of people who are increasingly annoyed that so many physical bookstores are disappearing.

These book lovers are being forced by necessity into buying their first eReaders. Little do they know just how quickly they’ll be hooked on eBooks. Once that happens, they’ll be well primed to buy other digital content. This crowd is not going to go for the tablet that costs $50 more than the one from the company that they’ve probably ordered books from in the past. I mean, really, who hasn’t bought something from Amazon in the last 10 years?

I think, B&N can build some advantages with their physical stores and the ability to not only showcase the Nook, but also popular and up and coming authors. But they’ve seriously got to lose the $50 premium. Price matching the Fire with the slower, older Nook Color is not going to cut it either. I think this fall is setting the stage for whether the last major U.S. bookstore chain survives or closes the book on the era of popular printed literature.

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