Barnes and Noble has announced the Nook, their e-book reader.
This is in direct competition to Amazon’s Kindle. It’s a very similar bit of technology, the major difference being that the B&N Nook will allow users to “share” e-books with other Nook users. It works this way. You purchase an ebook from B&N on your Nook. You like it. You think your buddy, who also has a Nook, would like it. So you can “loan” that book to said buddy. It will be available to be read on his Nook for two weeks. My bet is that this will generate a lot a ebook sales.
Now, some may argue that Amazon already owns the mind share for e-book readers, having crushed the Sony E-Reader in the market. The Kindle took off because Amazon was already seen as a major e-retailer of books and they had the ability to buy books immediately on the Kindle using mobile Internet technology. Sony wasn’t known as a book seller and they had no such “instant buy” option. The Nook has a similar broadband connection to the Kindle and B&N is seen as a major retailer of books by the public. The fact that B&N has a much larger ebook library than Amazon doesn’t hurt either.
There are two major flaws I can see with the Nook. First, the whole DRM thing. Second is that it only supports three formats, EPUB, eReader and PDF. A few more, including unencrypted Mobipocket, would be nice.
Amazon has responded, quietly, with the announcement that they will release free “Kindle software” for the PC platform, so people can read Amazon’s DRM crippled ebooks on their desktop or notebook computers. MAC and LINUX users are not supported in this release. Amazon is also selling refurbish (i.e. used) first gen Kindles for $150.