Why The Nook Isn’t a Kindle-Killer

First, I have to say that I’m a very happy Kindle owner who tends to read about 6 books a month. That might make my opinion bias when it comes to the Kindle itself, but as reader – I still exist as a consumer of information and books.

The Kindle’s innovation came first with it’s connectivity and delivery platform. It simplified the searching, downloading, and let’s not forget purchasing ease of getting books on the go. Never again did you have to make a trip to the airport bookstore while traveling. Its black and white interface using strict E Ink itself wasn’t innovative, it didn’t reinvent the way people read books. However, Amazon has taken a route taken by Nike and Apple, the long-term iterative improving experience. While the Kindle itself still has it’s limitations (to which many might point to its position on data openness), the constant changes that Amazon does allows the Kindle to adapt, keeping it competitive.

Many Kindle readers already know they can purchase and read books on their iPhone, but there is something that was announced a little more quietly. Amazon now has http://kindle.amazon.com – which at first sight is a bit mediocre. Its initial explanation for its existence too, is a bit… weird. Praising how many customers love their notes and highlights, I can’t imagine that reading the information out of context provides some level of insight in the thought process someone had while making the annotation within the book. This could instead be a preview for online and community shared book notes and annotations. Imagine sharing your books with friends and being able to read the notes each other thought were the most important about a book? Now that’s what will convert traditional readers.

What the Nook has done is something that is a necessary step in the evolution of ebook readers – like CDs, it will change the way things are done from this point forward – though it hasn’t envisioned anything extraordinary. The built in Wi-Fi connection means nothing to the everyday user. Why would they care to configure an additional connection when the always-on 3G network can take care of things without any additional configuration. Adding the idea that people are going to come to Barnes and Noble with their Nook because of the “Free Wi-Fi” is just asinine. The point of having a digital book reader is to reduce trips to a bookstore. Sure there is a touch screen – but it’s for navigation, and yes you can lend to friends for 14 days. When I loan a book my friends typically take it for more then that… but to each his own.

For an ebook reader to truly be a Kindle-Killer they are going to need to change the way people read and communicate about books. Book readers have a connection to the tangible feeling behind books, the feel, the smell of the paper. There is more there then just pages. You are going to have to combat history by changing the conditions of what reading means. Bring people together in either book sharing, long distance book clubs that can allow users to read everyone else’s comments and annotations, or simplifying book publishing. Amazon themselves, while they have ways to publish quickly on the device really drops the ball when it comes to supporting would-be authors with real information about publishing to the device.

Maybe Apple has something that will really shake things up?

Time will tell. Anyone considering making the switch from either a Sony Reader or Kindle to the Nook? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Genuinely Impressed By Rosenfeld Media

Let me start off my saying that no one is paying me or asking me to write any of this (or blackmailing me for that matter).  A few weeks ago I participated in Rosenfeld Media‘s UX Zeitgeist and purchased their first published book Mental Models, by Indi Young around that time as well.  Rosenfeld Media is the new kid on the block for publishing houses, but I’m a fan of books written by co-founders of Adaptive Path (Observing the User Experience, Subject to Change, The Elements of User Experience, you get the idea).

I really enjoyed everything about my interaction with this company.  During my participation in the UX Zeitgeist I had a few questions for them and received really quick responses from Lou Rosenfeld, the company’s owner.  When I ordered the book, you also receive a copy of in PDF format (at no extra charge) so you can instantly start reading while you wait for the paper version to come by mail, that’s smart.  As they were working up their plan for publishing obviously someone realized that people would actually be reading the PDF documents on the screen because you can tell they were definitely optimized for screen display.  Seriously everyone; the book is amazing.  When the mailed book came (a few business days later) I was amazed at the thickness of the cover and the quality of the print.  Amongst all this praise for Rosenfeld I have to extend my hand to Indi as well for such a quality book.  Her concepts on really getting into the heads of users are amazing, and as I continue my way through the book you can expect a full review when I am finished.  For those of you interested in the book now, Rosenfeld Media is offering a special 10% discount to you, my readers, because I told them I’d be writing about my positive experiences and enjoyment of their first book.  Just order the book from their site, and use the discount code FOKNIGHT during your order to get the discount.

Rosenfeld Media’s next book is Web Form Design by Luke W., a person familiar to most of you I’m sure.

This is definitely the publishing company to keep your eyes on if you are a designer of user experiences.