E-reader news: Post readies Kindle deal, Barnes & Noble debuts an Nook tablet
Later this week, the plan is for Amazon to start e-mailing select customers outside the Washington area, inviting them to buy a discounted Kindle DX--priced at $449 instead of the usual $489--bundled with one year of the Post's Kindle edition.
Washington Post spokeswoman Kris Coratti explained in an e-mail that the newspaper had spent "the past several months" reworking the original concept of having customers pay for a Post subscription to get a discounted Kindle.
The concept has evolved to enable Amazon to offer customers in select areas an opportunity to purchase a discounted Kindle and receive a free Kindle subscription to The Washington Post. We have been working with Amazon to identify Amazon subscribers outside of the D.C. area who are not already subscribed to The Washington Post--those individuals will receive an offer via e-mail.
In doing this, The Post aims to gather some real-world intelligence about customer demand for an electronic edition of the paper, especially when bundled with a reader device. Presumably, some of these subscribers will also choose to renew their Post Kindle subscriptions after the first year at the usual $9.99 rate.
When I reviewed the DX, I expressed some skepticism about the idea of limiting this deal to people who can't get a print subscription. I'm still not sold on that, and I'm also not sure that a $40 discount on an over-$400 device will persuade that many people to liberate their credit cards. But with an actual offer on the table, you won't have to take my word for it; shoppers can cast their own votes.
Back in May, Seattle-based Amazon had also said it would sell the DX at a discount when paired with a Kindle subscription to the New York Times or the Boston Globe. Neither paper has announced its own deal, although earlier this month the Columbia Journalism Review picked up an e-mail sent by the Times offering a free subscription to its Kindle edition bundled with a DX. A spokesman for the New York Times Co., which owns both papers, did not return an e-mail asking for an update on the situation.
The Nook, expected to ship by the end of November, combines a grayscale e-ink display with a smaller, touch-sensitive color LCD used for navigation. It can download titles over either AT&T Wireless's 3G network or a WiFi signal, runs on a version of Google's Android software and--most intriguing of all--allows for 14-day loans of e-books.
A device that allowed the same loaning option paper books have always provided would take a step towards addressing one of my oldest complaints about electronic books.
Note that the Nook is the not the reader B&N talked about when it announced its e-book shop. That model is still in the works, but yesterday its developer--Mountain View, Calif.-based Plastic Logic--revealed some significant details of this upcoming Que tablet. Its press release (PDF) explains that this device, less than a third of an inch thick, will include a "shatterproof plastic display" and a battery that "can last days, instead of hours." The company says it will announce its price and a shipping date when it unveils the Que at the Consumer Electronics Show in January.
The Wall Street Journal's Venture Capital Dispatch blog has a good summary of Plastic Logic's news. Between all these developments--along with upcoming ventures from iRex, Google and others--this market is starting to look awfully crowded.
Will any of these developments spark more interest than before? What would it take for you to invest in an e-book device--or will nothing persuade you to make such a purchase when physical books and newspapers don't need separate hardware?
October 20, 2009; 6:05 PM ET
Categories: E-books , Gadgets , The business we have chosen
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