Wednesday, February 19, 2014

RIP, Nook Simple Touch

Two weeks ago, I blogged about the death of the Sony Reader and at the end, openly wondered, "Who's next?"

Today, we got our answer.

Nook has phased out its Simple Touch ereader, and it begs the question: How much further will this particular platform fall into the morass?

I've blogged in the past how Barnes & Noble is pretty much in its death throes. Two years ago, I wrote about how B&N potentially exploring the spinning off of the Nook into its own entity (much like it did with GameStop) was the beginning of the end for the company. I've written that B&N would sell off its physical assets by 2015, closing stores as its stock prices continue to dwindle. And I've written that B&N, when it comes to the Nook device in and of itself, cannot match Amazon and the price of the Kindle. Amazon has consistently shown it will beat everyone with fervent price-matching schemes.

(Quick aside: For those of you out there who despise Amazon for what it's doing to B&N and previously Borders... where were you and your soapbox when B&N and Borders did the same thing to the small independent bookstores in the 1980s? Glad we could clear that up. Thanks for playing.)

Did I expect Simple Touch to go? Not at all. The Simple Touch was Nook's only true competition with Kindle, and the fact that its gone means that the folks at B&N are in the process of unfurling that white banner (much like I am with the snow that has pummeled Massachusetts lately, but seriously) and surrender. You all have to see this. It's inevitable. Nook will surrender, and the ereader wars will be down to Amazon and Apple. We all know that Apple will never give up (and seeing my Apple sales being what they are, I don't want them to give up).

Now. Like I said in the Sony Reader blog, I feel bad for the readers who use the Nook. I know plenty of readers who have them, my sister-in-law to be being one. Friends from school have them, and they have my books on them. I'm sure there are plenty of other readers who have the Nook and have my books on them. Tonight, I was asked by one of my readers what Nook's potential demise will mean for her and the vast amount of books she has on her device.

I can only hypothesize. It is my hope that Amazon will come out with a dual mobi-epub Kindle that, when it eventually takes Nook over (much as Kobo is doing with Sony), will allow Nook users the ability to keep the epub books they have on their devices while trading in their Nook for a discount on that new Kindle. Of course, they can use Calibre to convert if they so choose now. This is only a guess on my part. I wouldn't want a reader to have to buy my books digitally twice.

We've bought new televisions when the technology changes (hello, HDTV). We've gone from 8 millimeter film to LaserDisc, to VHS and BetaMax, to DVD, and now to Blu-Ray (which you need an HDTV to use). We've gone from the icebox to the refrigerator/freezer combo. Soon, Nook readers will have to adapt and go Kindle. I don't know when--my crystal ball is in the shop--but it will be soon.

Simple Touch's premature death is only the start of the defections to Kindle.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

RIP, Sony Reader

Back in the late 1980s and 1990s, Howard Stern held mock funerals in radio markets that he had entered and subsequently dominated after he left WNBC and headed to K-Rock Radio. Stern had absolutely obliterated the competition, and held that fact over the other stations' heads.

While this may not happen with today's revelation that Sony Reader is pulling out (giggity) of the North American ebook scene, it's sad to say that it wasn't hard to see this coming.

Since I've started in the business, Sony have been fourth-best in my sales numbers behind Amazon Kindle, Nook, and iBooks. Most of the books "sold" on Sony for me have been free copies of Model Agent. Occasionally I'll see the other AGENT books get picked up, but other than that... whenever Sony numbers update on Smashwords, I'm disappointed.

Now that's not to say that I don't appreciate my Sony readers. I do. I appreciate every single one of them. I do, however, feel bad that they are being put through the ringer here.

Sony didn't put out a quality product, in my opinion. Not only that, the Sony Reader store was hard to navigate--I think that if people found my books there, they did so on accident. No one I know have a Sony Reader; they are all Kindle and Nook, with the occasional iBooks user. It's almost as if Sony wanted to not sell the product.

Now Sony users will be able to keep their already-downloaded books as they now go to Kobo, a company that was, at one time, a device barely available in the US: it was involved with Borders at the tail end of that brick-and-mortar company's existence. I do get most of my Canadian ebook sales from Kobo, so I wish Kobo nothing but the best.

I do hope the Sony users fare well over the transition. But the question everyone should ask themselves as they dive into purchasing an ereader--who's next?