B&N and Amazon Are At It Again

The 2 major US ereader makers are once again squabbling like school children. This is the second round of squabbling, and it looks to be as entertaining as the earlier fight back in May of this year.

Do you remember what happened back then? Barnes & Noble launched the Nook Touch, and one of their selling points for the the Nook Touch was that it had 2 months battery life and how that was better than the 1 month battery life that the Kindle had.

Naturally, Amazon felt that they had to respond and they did so in a less than optimal manner. Since they couldn’t actually improve the battery life on the K3, they instead fudged the details on the product listing. Rather than having an hour a day for a month, Amazon decided that the K3 could be read for half an hour day for 2 months.

B&N responded to that with the best smackdown. According to B&N’s testing, the Nook Touch could be read for 150 hours and the K3 only for 56 hours. That pretty much ended that fight, pity. I thought it was quite entertaining.

Today’s squabbling isn’t over battery life. Amazon chose to fire back at B&N over retail locations. You see, one of the key points of yesterday’s presentation was that the Nook devices could be bought in any of 700 retail locations. Got a problem with your Nook? Just visit a B&N store and someone will provide technical assistance. Also, B&N were also careful to point out that Amazon couldn’t make this same claim.

Now, B&N made a number of good points about their retail locations, and there really isn’t anything Amazon can say to counter it. But Amazon still cannot let it go (much to my delight). So they put out a press release today. They want to make sure that everyone knows that the new Kindle family will be available in 16 thousand retail locations in the US come 15 November.

Amazon.com today announced that over 16,000 stores across the U.S. will be selling the new Kindle family starting November 15. Customers will be able to visit any Best Buy, Target, Walmart, Staples, Sam’s Club, RadioShack, Office Depot, as well as several other retailers, to experience and purchase the $79 Kindle, the $99 Kindle Touch, the $149 Kindle 3G and the $199 Kindle Fire.

Unless you look at it as a response to B&N, there isn’t much of a reason for this release. Yes, everything in it is factually correct, but it’s not news. And that’s why I think Amazon is responding to Barnes & Noble.

I’m not sure how B&N will respond, but I bet they have something planned. Their response back in May was too well coordinated, and the presentation yesterday was carefully crafted to criticize Amazon. I believe B&N have the next volley ready, and they will return fire as soon as they get a chance.

On a related note, I haven’t made a big deal of it but both Sony and B&N are now referring to their ebook readers as not having annoying ads (like on the ad subsidized Kindles). B&N even went so far yesterday as to point out the the Nook Touch was priced the same as the Kindle Touch – only without the annoying ads.

I never liked the sleight of hand Amazon pulled on the pricing, so watching as it backfires on them is quite fun.

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image by PoshMoggy

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.


  1. Syn8 November, 2011

    B&N has a 14 day return policy, Amazon has 30.. Amazon will over night you a Kindle of yours breaks.. B&N ships normal shipping.. My friend took her Nook in and they told her to call customer service.. a lot of good having a store did her hehe..

    Amazon has the best customer service when it comes to their kindle. B&N if you download a book you didn’t mean to buy, you are SOL.. Amazon, you have 7 days to get a refund.

    B&N has no true Echosystem outside of books..

    1. Fritz Goebel9 November, 2011

      I downloaded a book from B&N that I had trouble reading, pages in the middle were missing. B&N refunded my purchase price promptly. I also notified the publisher of the problem with its book (since B&N had the same problem with it as I) and the publisher sent me a free copy in a different format that had all the pages.

  2. Logan Kennelly8 November, 2011

    Wouldn’t you know, many of the listed stores also carry the Nook. 😛

    I have generally found the floor sales staff to be equally bad (or equally good if you aren’t a pessimist) at product support for all of the eReaders.

    1. Nate Hoffelder8 November, 2011

      And that could be B&N’s response.

      1. K H Acton8 November, 2011

        The problem is that B&N’s own staff has always been bad in regards to their own product and woefully misinformed about their competitor’s.

        1. Tyler8 November, 2011

          The Barnes and Noble I frequent the most, in Reston, Virginia has a very knowledgeable staff. The only problem is that they descend on you like Hawks if you so much as do a sideways glance at the massive Nook Department they have set up in their store. Best Buy is next door and I have been there listening woefully as the salesmen act like they know what they are talking about but really say some of the stupidest stuff.

  3. Furio Petrossi8 November, 2011

    Amazon and B&N are USA-centric, but Amazon is more open to outher world.
    I can buy Kindle in Europe and have a warranty. For B&N it is more complicated.
    I cannot buy B&N e-magazines in Europe.
    If $ = € = money it is necessary to look for a wider market for all two… cats and not-USA stores or e-stores can make the difference.

  4. Fritz Goebel9 November, 2011

    The Nook can be bought at many other locations than just B&N bookstores. In my area it’s available at Best Buy, Walmart, and OfficeMax, and probably other locations as well. I purchased my Nook Color at OfficeMax. They also carry accessories at these locations; I just purchased an extra Nook Color USB cable with power adaptor (using MaxPerks credits and a 20% off coupon, it only cost me about $8).

  5. Adam B9 November, 2011

    Nate, I’ve seen a few comments from you that “don’t really like B&N as a company,” but I can’t find any post where you explain why. From this post, it almost seems like you prefer BN (or at least their marketing) over Amazon. Comment?

    1. Nate Hoffelder9 November, 2011

      I’ve had less than pleasant encounters with B&N before bit I’d refer just to let the drop. (Yes, I know i shouldn’t mention them if I don’t want to discuss it.)

      Normally I’d disagree with you about liking B&N marketing more than Amazon’s but in this case you’re at least half right. I did get taken in on Monday (and that affected this post), so much so that I missed an important detail.

      The Nook tablet doesn’t actually have 16GB of storage. Like the NC, it has most of the space hidden from the owner.

      I knew about the NC restriction so I should have thought to check about the NooK Tablet’s actual storage space before I posted. It changes everything.

      1. Geert Meijer10 November, 2011

        The reason most of the memory is reserved for B&N content, is that this partition is used by Android to install the apps (and especially also those large app-like books). These cannot be installed on a micro SD-card. If they would make this partition smaller that would limit the amount of app space. And this would mean that you would run out of space to install apps. A big problem with the original NC partitioning model, that had only 1 GB of app space. As $10 will get you a 8 GB micro SD-card and $20 a 16 GB one, the new partitioning model is a good compromise for most users.

  6. Andrys9 November, 2011

    Just wanted to add that Amazon’s ‘not clever’ way of responding was the only way, especially for the easily misinformed as B&N tends to like to do in its sales material, much as I enjoy their store and their NookColor.

    B&N STARTED the idiotic battery life issue by SAYING they based it on 1/2 hr of reading, while all along Amazon had based theirs on 1 hr a day, so, taking that change of focus, Amazon changed their battery-use method claims to be the same as B&N’s, 1/2 hr a day, but they generally had given their customers more credit for how much reading they might do on an e-reader a day.

    BN successfully masked the meaning of the internal 16gigs, reduced to 1 gig reality for side-loaded personal files (not purchased from BN), by not mentioning it during announcements and Q&A, and placing the info in their comparison chart as footnotes leading to almost invisible light-grey (‘fine’) print.

    They encourage store staff to say the most outrageous untrue things about Kindles, which I guess is easy for them to do since they don’t train them well even in what the Nook can or can’t do. I heard one staffer reassure a couple who was buying one that yes, they could use it in Europe to download a Nook book while vacationing there.

    1. Nate Hoffelder9 November, 2011

      Was the half hour a day what B&N said back then? I’m not sure, and in any case this time around they said an hour a day for 2 months.

      Edit: No, the fine print still says half an hour a day.

    2. Nate Hoffelder9 November, 2011

      I’m probably taking a minority position here, but wouldn’t it have been better for Amazon to be honest about their battery life? They waved a wand and changed it from 1 month to 2.

      Yes, they copied B&N’s method, but they still waved a magic wand. I would think it would have been better for for Amazon to keep the figures and let people figure it out.

    3. Chelsea10 November, 2011

      Actually you *can* use your Nook to download ebooks in other countries, as long as you have a credit/debit card with a U.S. or Canadian bank.

      1. Furio Petrossi10 November, 2011

        It is true that “you *can* use your Nook to download ebooks in other countries” , but not magazines

        1. Geert Meijer10 November, 2011

          You were always allowed to download everything that is in your B&N library anywhere in the word.
          There was only a restriction when buying things. That was only allowed with an US IP-address. This was a rights issue. But it seems B&N has finally reached an agreement with the publishers. Because recently this policy was changed. If you have a US credit/debit card you now can buy things anywhere in the world (and I assume that is also true for magazines).

          1. C. O'Leary10 November, 2011

            Yes, the above is accurate – I just bought a Nook last month in Texas and after checking three times to be SURE the policy had changed – made the jump. I CAN purchase and download books, magazines and newspapers now in Amsterdam. However, I CANNOT purchase Apps from the Nook AppStore as yet. They are “working on it.”

            1. Nate Hoffelder10 November, 2011

              Sorry to be nitpicky, but are you using a US credit card? I just want to know exactly how it works. Thanks.

  7. Geert Meijer10 November, 2011

    As I live in the Netherlands I am using a Dutch credit card and a VPN myself. But several US Nook users on B&N’s Nook boards have confirmed that since the change they have been able to buy things outside the US without a problem.

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