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NookStudy update shows B&N are the new digital powerhouse

NookStudy got an update last month and one of the new features slipped by me somehow. I knew that NS now had TT, but what I missed was that it also had spoken menus and the like. It’s now the most accessible of the mainstream reading apps, and Barnes & Noble did it under our noses.

Accessibility has a specific meaning when applied to the visually impaired. I’m sure that you know that the Kindle (like many other devices) will read you book to you? You might think that that would mean the blind could use  the Kindle. Well, no. You still can’t really use the Kindle unless you can read the menus.

Accessibility means being able to do anything in an app without being able to see/hear what you’re doing. We’re talking about reading apps, so the hearing part isn’t relevant to this discussion. It’s the visual component that matters.

B&N have added spoken word cues to all the menus in NookStudy. I can’t say how well it works, but I can say that this is the only major reading app or ereader that has this ability. Blio, for example, was pitched as an accessible reading app, but it never got beyond TTS. (Most of the major reading apps never got as far as TTS, so I suppose Blio did something, at least.)

When NookStudy launched last fall, it was one of the best academic reading apps on the market. Now it is moving into a second niche where it’s going to challenge all the expensive accessibility apps. If B&N can keep this kind of innovation going, they are going to be a force to be reckoned with.

One last note: there’s a mindset that successful tech companies have which many in the book industry lack; it’s part of the reason why Amazon are winning. I’d say that B&N have adopted the tech company mindset. If any bookstore chain survives the digital revolution, it will be B&N.


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Mike Cane June 3, 2011 um 10:44 am

Lynch is doing good things for B&N, but never forget the DRM. And has their customer service for Nook improved?

Scottish Curmudgeon June 3, 2011 um 11:11 am

The Kindle will also has spoken cues for the menus and various other items. It’s on page 2 of the settings.

Nate Hoffelder June 3, 2011 um 11:22 am


karen wester newton June 3, 2011 um 11:31 am

The read-aloud-menus function were added to the Kindle starting with the Kindle 3. When I got mine, I tried it out. It works well for reading menus in books (i.e., it reads the Home screen books titles, and the menu options with no problem) but doesn’t work not when you try to use the Kindle as a web browser. Also, I was surprised that once I had turned on the read-the-menus aloud function, it stayed on for all menus but did not automatically start TTS on the books I opened. I still had to do that step for every book.

Robert June 4, 2011 um 12:05 pm

I think one major flaw in nook study is the inability to put the text book on the nook itself.
Not to mention what good is spoken menus and the like if you still need to be able to use a computer to access nook study.

Nate Hoffelder June 4, 2011 um 12:32 pm

The Nook (and now the Nook Touch) are basic e-readers. That’s how B&N see them, and that’s why their features are so limited. But it would be nice to at least share some abilities (like highlights) across devices, yes.

I’d much rather see NookStudy on the NookColor and the iPad. Now that would be truly great app.

Robert June 4, 2011 um 1:08 pm

Certainty would… I tried to use NS while I was taking a class but I didnt want to have my laptop out… it was easier to have the book out instead… I ended up getting the book on my iPad and iBooks and it worked out great 🙂

Ezekiel Carsella July 3, 2012 um 12:37 am

I hope to see the Nook study in a Windows 8 metro styled app!!

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