Reuters: Front-Lit Kindle to Launch in July

Kindle Touch

Nivedita Bhattacharjee for Reuters:

Amazon.com Inc will launch new versions of its Kindle e-reader and tablet, including a monochrome e-reader with front lighting, a source who has seen the prototype told Reuters.

I had thought Amazon would’ve adhered to its established hardware revision cycle with little regard to B&N’s products, but it seems I was wrong.

Although B&N may not be an enormous threat in and of itself, Microsoft’s purchase of the Nook division, coupled with the evident brick and mortar retail aversion to Amazon hardware, makes for a somewhat problematic situation for the Seattle-based giant.

As I always say, competition is certainly not a bad thing.

Antitrust Settlement Batters Barnes & Noble

Barnes & Noble

Speaking of Barnes & Noble, the venerable retailer has evidently been hit rather hard by the news of the Department of Justice’s far-reaching e-book pricing litigation. Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg reports for The Wall Street Journal:

Barnes & Noble Inc. bore the brunt of Wednesday’s antitrust settlement between the U.S. government and three major book publishers, losing 6.4% of its market value on Thursday alone and tumbling 17% this month.

Those market worries reflected the broad sentiment in the publishing world that Amazon.com Inc. is likely to emerge a far stronger competitor in the fast-growing e-book business now that it once again will be able to discount digital books by such best-selling authors as Mary Higgins Clark and Christopher Moore.

Despite Barnes & Noble’s impressive inclination toward innovation and modernization, the market seems to be irrevocably slipping from its already loosened grasp. With low e-reader sales, the antitrust settlement, and the looming shadow of Amazon, Barnes & Noble’s business seems doomed to eventual collapse.

Without significant restructuring of the company’s digital framework, the Nook line is utterly under-supported by its own parent ecosystem. Regardless of positive and optimistic intentions, Barnes & Noble is, at the end of the day, well out of its depth and comfort zone. Although, in a romantic sense, I would wholeheartedly like to see a resurgent Barnes & Noble, the prospect is becoming increasingly unlikely with each passing day.

In fact, I tend to think their e-readers are measurably better than their Amazonian competitors in many respects. But, unfortunately, Amazon has an extensive media ecosystem that unquestionably trumps good intentions and well-measured hopes.

Simply put, Amazon is able to endure low margins and cut-cost sales due to its broader sales initiatives. Barnes & Noble, on the other hand, is definitively wedged into a singular segment of the market.

I do hope Barnes & Noble can weather this storm but, with flagging investor and consumer confidence, the prospect is — disappointingly — shifting into the realm of unadulterated idealism.

Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight Official

Nook

Following some last-minute rumors earlier this week, Barnes & Noble has confirmed the impending arrival of the Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight. Available in early May for $139, the front-lit display adds a $40 premium to the existing e-ink line, but utterly reshapes the use case scenarios for the average e-reading consumer.

As I said earlier this week, I look forward to experimenting with the hardware in person. The Nook Simple Touch, as it stands, is a thoroughly compelling e-reader and, coupled with such a versatile display, I imagine it will cause many to reconsider purchasing a Kindle in the lead-up to the summer.

Unless Amazon hurries its front-lit counterpart out of the factory in the coming weeks, that is.

The Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight is available for preorder here.

Nook Simple Touch with "GlowLight" Leaked

Nook GlowLight

Nathan Ingraham reports for The Verge:

We heard a few days ago that Amazon was readying a Kindle with a front-lit, E ink screen — now it appears that Barnes & Noble is ready to do the same thing with the Nook. The Digital Reader has just posted an image of what appears to be a Nook Simple Touch with a front-lit E ink screen that Barnes & Noble has dubbed “GlowLight.” While this is by no means guaranteed yet, these images do look fairly authentic, and these details corroborate an earlier report from The Ebook Reader. It sounds like the Nook will use a similar technology to what was described as being used on the next Kindle — a thin layer that covers the entire screen and evenly distributes light across it. While we’re not sure when we’ll see the latest Nook hardware, it wouldn’t surprise us to hear something very soon considering the info that’s starting to leak out.

In the past few weeks, due to a rather excessive amount of travel, I’ve repeatedly butted heads with the Kindle Touch’s lack of light. In most scenarios, purely for the sake of sanity and ease of use, I’ve accordingly gravitated toward the iPad for the vast majority of my reading.

Although the iPad doesn’t quite measure up to the quality of reading on an e-ink device, the ability to read without bounds is a liberating and important piece of functionality to boast. Rumors have indicated some sort of front-lit screen is making its way into the Kindle line but, as is the trend, it seems Barnes & Noble is going to beat them to it.

I actually have a Nook Simple Touch on my desk for testing. When held together with my Kindle, I’ve read comparably little on it but, having said that, I tend to think the device is actually superior in several respects.

Thus, if a Nook does materialize in the coming weeks boasting “GlowLight,” I feel rather confident that I’ll be keenly visiting a Barnes & Noble to test it out.