I have an iPhone with Retina display.
I still read on my eInk Kindle.
I have a Kindle Paperwhite 3G for this purpose that always travels with me. I even get my Instapaper articles on it: http://david-smith.org/blog/2012/10/11/instapaper-on-the-kin...
The best device for reading novels IMO is the Nexus Galaxy. Most of my reading is done in bed, lying down, and for that the OLED screen and one-handedness of the small device wins by far. OLED is a lot better than LCD in the dark because there's no backlight glow.
In bright light the eInk is obviously a better screen, but I still believe that a 4.5" screen is a better size for reading novels than a 6" one.
Delivery mechanism? Sure. Device? Eh.
> Anybody who thinks that a 300–400 dpi 4–5 inch
> smartphone isn’t a first class reading device
> hasn’t laid their hands on one.
Most people misread the article. That point was something he said others have said, AND IS WRONG.
Please read the sentence AFTER those bullet points:
Those are all good but I’d argue that doing this wouldn’t solve B&N’s problem in the long term.
His real bullet points are later.
If "most people" misread something, the problem is very likely in the article.
As Amazon continues to push the price frontier lower and lower, the ereader will become practically an impulse buy. One can already purchase an Amazon Kindle, the top name in the business, for $50-70. That's 1/3 the price of the cheapest decent tablet.
People make comparisons to the iPod, how it was the best dedicated music player before it, too, was cannibalized by the smartphone. And the same goes for the low-end point and shoot. However the ereader is different in that it is based entirely upon a technology (eink) which has made nearly zero appearances in other devices. Until there is a tablet that can switch to eink mode, there will always be a market for dedicated readers.
As for Barnes and Noble, it's never easy to compete with Amazon and as far as I'm concerned that's all there is to it.
I agree that e-ink is probably superior for reading but it's going to get harder and harder to find customers who only want to read on their devices.
"As Amazon continues to push the price frontier lower and lower, the ereader will become practically an impulse buy. One can already purchase an Amazon Kindle, the top name in the business, for $50-70. That's 1/3 the price of the cheapest decent tablet."
True but the price point of other devices will also become impulse buys so ereaders will still be competing with tablets etc.
"People make comparisons to the iPod, how it was the best dedicated music player before it, too, was cannibalized by the smartphone. And the same goes for the low-end point and shoot. However the ereader is different in that it is based entirely upon a technology (eink) which has made nearly zero appearances in other devices."
Right, iPod was based on a different technology (digital media) and the point and shoot was based on a different technology (digital image capture). Smartphones/tablets added both and now those markets are diminishing. How does this make ereaders different?
E Ink (the company that makes the screens) posted losses in every category except Q4 last year, not coincidentally the first full year that tablets above 200 dpi have been on the market. Amazon essentially ordered nothing from them in the first quarter. And this came right after Amazon slashed the price of the cheapest Kindle to well below $100.
> Changing that would require firing everybody who
> currently works on the Nook and building a new,
> isolated and insulated, business unit elsewhere,
> preferably on the other side of the continent,
> and treat it like a well-funded startup.
>>Or, if B&N can talk publishers off the DRM ledge and onto the watermarking perch, they could just switch to using iBooks when on iOS and have a book delivery app that doesn’t do anything but notify people when new books are ready to be copied into iBooks.
Wow, why isn't this guy CEO? So in other words Amazon and B&N should get rid of their delivery networks and build a better reading application that will compete against apple which has:
1) a device 2) a content delivery network 3) a proprietary delivery format that they can add new features to 4) a builtin application
And the value proposition is the reader app is better? Well, it if its you don't need to do anything the author suggests. You just need to improve your e-reading application.
The author confuses needing to understand where the market is going with making up a fantasy world where nothing you have done to support your existing business should be accepted.
On the contrary, he says that's what B&N should not do. My guess is you misread the bullet points in the middle of the article as being his recommendation, when in fact they're another set of bullet points he says are mistaken. His final set of bullet points are the real ones, wherein he says B&N and Amazon should discontinue tablets and reader applications, and make better storefronts, letting Apple or third parties make the better reader.
The smugness is palpable, although I'm catching some points and have issues with others, I'm not allowed to speak until he's said his peace. At one point, I'm told that since I didn't ask a question when he mention "value network", I'm immediately told I know nothing about it and therefore required to listen to him site a book I've already read.
Finally when it is all over and done, when I finally have a moment to parlay my rebuttal, I let him know he's missing a number of points and confusing some issues. But instead of listening and countering, he waves his hand and stamps out his cigar. And as he walks away mutters "Arsehole" in that under-your-breath manner that is still loud and obviously intended for you to hear.
As I turn back, I see that a card has been placed on my chair. It informs me who this monocled figure was that felt the need to not simply inform, but belittle me and my opinions. Then on the back is inscribed, "But of course you already knew who I was..."
Although, it's true I don't fully subscribe to his points. The way this piece was written made me feel I wasn't allowed to have a dissenting thought. It's like he went out of his way to deny you your critical thinking, and therefore difficult to take seriously. Just my couple cents...
mike cane, you excerpted the wrong bit of the original article:
• Create a first rate storefront+reader on Android and the web.
• Shift more resources into the iOS app and make it better than anybody else’s.
• Perform a series of commerce-oriented experiments, e.g. subscriptions, bundling, in-book payments, etc.
The bit you quoted and respond to is what he said other people's advice was.
Note the sentence AFTER those bullet points: "Those are all good but I’d argue that doing this wouldn’t solve B&N’s problem in the long term."
The actual advice was to exit the app business entirely:
• Discontinue the tablets.
• Milk the e-ink cow until it topples over.
• Make an awesome storefront.
• Discontinue the reading app and license somebody else’s.
1. Crosspost of http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5299419
Aside: I'm a big e-ink fan (I've owned 4 generations of Kindles) and heavy reader that's slowly being brought around to the value of hi-DPI LCD screens. For all the explanations of e-ink's virtues, I think the main advantage was the lack of aliasing and other artifacts that text suffers on sub-200 dPi screens.
It would be stupid, bordering on insane to give up the one good thing B&N has going for it. Without Nook, B&N is Tower Records. Nook software is pointless without hardware, same as Kindle software.
Bookstores will continue to decline, but there is a place for the last man standing. College bookstores are dominated by B&N and focusing on where you are winning is a good decision.
At best, Microsoft could buy Nook and the B&N e-book infrastructure and turn it into a software component for Windows 8 devices. At worst, it's doomed to not become viable.
If Nook does become viable it will do so mostly outside the US.