nookwifi Engadget just received a screenshot from Barnes & Noble’s inventory management system showing a “NOOK WiFi” device listed at $149, with a release date of Wednesday, June 23rd.

No indication of what it looks like, whether stores will have any on hand, or whather the screenshot is accurate. Still, it’s interesting to see one of the “big boys” weigh in (barely) below the $150 mark. The two-digit barrier fast approaches.

Update: PaidContent reports that the price of the 3G Nook is also falling from $259. to $199. Those wondering about the price difference due to the 3G module might find that reassuring.

Wonder if Amazon will follow suit. Will this touch off an e-ink reader price war?


  1. Exciting news. My BN eBook sales have gone from zero at the beginning of the year to a significant percentage of total sales now. I think and hope that BN is in this business in the long run. A low-cost, wi-fi version, with included web browser (I hope) is exactly what the market needs as a next step for the Nook. I’ll buy one.

    Rob Preece

  2. It’s for real.
    And it should be at retail tomorrow; Best Buy has it “on sale” at the new price and the shelf tags are in place.
    It’s the same Nook but without 3G. (A tad lighter, different color back plate.) Which is interesting as we *finally* know what 3G adds to the cost.
    CNET has a bit more detail:

    As for starting a price war…
    …I’m a-thinking… Yes!

    To me, the $199 drop to the 3G Nook is not the big news here, but rather the $149 WiFi model. For most people, WiFi at home (they finally fixed that, right?) is a direct equivalent to 3G anywhere, especially when it means a 25% saving (and 42% from yesterday’s prices.)

    We already knew Amazon is prepping a WiFi Kindle for august or so. Well, if they weren’t they sure better be now. Kobo needs to rethink and Sony is going to hurt with two of its three models, if not all. The second-tier crowd (Bookeen, Pocketbook, Aztak, etc) are now going to be under added pressure. We might see some abandon the US market if they can’t come close to matching Nook.

    This one’s going to be making waves for a while.
    And yes, B&N is *now* a player; *they* are the benchmark now. And its a whole new game.
    Not a bad serve at all; now to see who answers first and how.

  3. Felix,
    The Nook may be a pricing benchmark but certainly not a well-functioning e-reader benchmark, not with the way it handles annotations (no way to find them but to know where to look and go to them), book searches, and dictionary hidden in many menu steps, slow, and with not very good results. Typing that takes a second for a character to display.

    Maybe the new update has some new ways to access those features — it’d be good if it had a new software design.

    The $199 for the Nook with 3G has 3G limited to the store, while the Kindle’s is suddenly giving full-web access all over the globe, unlimited and at no added cost and has given free Wikipedia globally since October 2009. A feature almost never mentioned in the press.

    The new full-web access over most of the globe is a story not being picked up, not even as a question.

    No one knows if Amazon did it inadvertently as a side-effect of enabling Facebook and Twitter sends globally, but it’s been awhile and there’s been no correction to that enabling while it came fast when there -was- an error for Canada and they disabled that quickly.

    People reporting to forums are enchanted with the idea of it and don’t mind its slowness (though it’s better now with the mobile-device-optimized sites) and keep asking if there really are no data charges.

    Press mention? No.

    What a conundrum. I suppose Amazon can’t ‘market’ that feature as too much use of it abroad could really cost them.
    Already the gmail access is much easier and faster on the Kindle than before. And this is accessible from almost anywhere you are, not searching for hotspots where you have to sit at that spot.

    Judging from Apple’s $130 more for the 3g model and the $15-$25 data plans, it does cost and the iPad’s cost is lower and more flexible than most plans.

    So, what will Amazon do? Maybe take a loss with the Kindle the way they used to with NYT bestsellers until the Agency plan was forced on them.

    I agree Amazon will have to lower the price because most columnists don’t know the difference between WiFi and mobile-wireless/full web access functioning in an e-reader or even how the various e-readers actually function.
    Now, lower pricing is something I personally want as I’d like more to enjoy the reader if all they want is reading and study tools in a lower-cost portable reader.

    What’s strange is that I have seen more people I know (whom I don’t bother with Kindle enthusiasm) are buying Kindles and Nooks, though I’ve seen no Sonys among those I know. I used to like the Sony Pocket as an ultra-basic alternative and maybe add-on once it was being sold for less than $199 at some stores.

    The Kobo is practically featureless and can’t compete with the Nook at $149. And the Kobo is the one device that should be $99. That e-ink screen alone used to cost $65 a year ago. I wonder how much these days.

  4. And the gloves are off! 🙂
    We have us a price war!!!

    Stand by for casualties arriving…

    Andrys: I’m not a Nook fan. (I’m not a Kindle fan.)
    And bugs and limitations aside, Nook does have its supporters who find it meets *their* needs. This early into the ebook reader era (the first price war!) most people are happy to see ebook readers exist at all.

    Yesterday, Nook wasn’t on my “quick-n-dirty” list of readers to look at when somebody asked me about possibly getting one. Today it is.
    Doesn’t mean I’m going to tell everybody (or even anybody) to go buy one, but anybody serious about getting a reader has to at least look at the price leader. (Kobo and Jetbook also make the quick-n-dirty list, btw. Kindle and Pocketbook, too. Sony just fell out of it.)

    Six months ago, the question was whether B&N was serious about ebooks at all. (I was one of the casualties when they dropped out of the business their first time out.)
    Not much doubt now, though; they do mean business.

    They can’t be ignored, now.
    In my book, that’s a benchmark. (shrug)

    If nothing else, they made Amazon get off their (complacent?) fat rear:

  5. Interesting. Very aggressive move though I don’t really believe it was mainly aimed at Amazon, B&N must know that no ways would that entity allow itself to be outpriced in this way. Of course Amazon does have the problem of no Wi-Fi reader as yet so (small) advantage B&N. Interesting that Amazon did not attempt to match that price of $149…
    B&N probably aiming at 3 things.
    1) Borders strategy of aiming at lower priced ereader market destroyed before it even got going. Not having your own branded ereader to sell at cost or below is not clever.
    2)Kobo has bean dealt a heavy blow, at least in the US market. Makes little sense to buy their reader now.
    3)Everybody that wants to make a profit selling ereaders as opposed to content. B&N is making it brutally clear that they have no interest in making a profit on the hardware. Hard to see the likes of Sony, Astak etc. overcoming this reality. The likes of Samsung & Acer must feel particularly aggrieved, B&N is going to be their bookstore content provider & is undercutting their coming ereaders big time.

    All great for customers though the end result could be the destruction of the stand alone ereader market in the USA. Seems clear that B&N believes the view they have propagated for some time that only a couple of ebookstore & ereader providers will emerge winners – & they are determined to be one of those.

  6. “Interesting that Amazon did not attempt to match that price of $149…”

    Actually, we don’t know that yet. Amazon doesn’t have a WiFi only model yet. However, they did beat B&N’s new $199 3G price, which is impressive given that Amazon offers web browsing on their 3G.

  7. Sorry what I meant was that Amazon did not attempt to break new ground by offering their 3G model at the Nook WiFi’s price. That really would have set the cat amongst the pigeons! As is their reaction was speedy but just that, a reaction & not a gamechanger, at least in the USA. Internationally it will cause consternation, though one must wonder how many Kindles Amazon have in stock if a replacement is immenent.

    To clarify I doubt that B&N is seriously thinking of taking on Amazon in a price war – that would be suicidal. It’s rather all the other players – Kobo, Sony, that shambling corpse that is Borders – that they wanted to deal a body blow to. At least that is how I read it. Could be be wrong though.

  8. @gouss; it could very well be. Certainly hitting $149 with a wireless reader is a big shot across the bow at Kobo *and* the hardware-only vendors. Right now anybody looking to Jetbook, Aluratech, Astak, etc, *has* to at least stop and think about Nook. And, most of those readers are in the Adobe ePUB DRM camp so Nook can more easily poach them than they can Kindle’s customers.

  9. Yes, I believe that B&N is more likely to poach customers from Sony, Kobo etc since:
    1) If they are already ebook readers then Adobe epub libraries will work on the Nook no problem. Can throw in the pdb libraries as bonus.
    b) If not acquiring a Nook means a wider buying selection, B&N itself, & any other Adobe clone out there eg Sony, Kobo. The reverse is not true – Sony & Kobo readers cannot buy & read from B&N at present.

    Speculation detour ahead:
    Some potentially formidable ereader rivals are neutralised (Acer, Samsung) by being tied to B&N for content. Mop up the rest with a nice little price war they cannot match. If this causes Amazon to drop prices sooner than they wanted so much the better. (Amazon was surely going to drop their price anyway before their new model comes out). The idea would be to force the market into a 2 horse contest with all the not-Amazon-please-crowd getting behind B&N by necessity.

  10. See where Guy LeCharles Gonzalez comes to more or less the same conclusion that ‘the price drop also effectively kneecaps floundering and fledgling competitors’ and that ‘I think the market for dedicated readers of static eBooks is relatively fixed, and Amazon and B&N are best positioned to own it; it’s a two-party system that no one else will be able to crack in a sustainable manner.’
    The defense rests.

  11. @gouss: Nice commentary; thanks for the link.
    What caught my attention (besides the very precise phrasing on his definitions) was the suggestion that cheaper ebook readers will increase the pressure for cheaper ebooks.

    Real world examples of similar effects abound: most notably, cheap PCs and netbooks. The proliferation of cheap PCs put a lot of pressure on MS to release cheaper versions of Windows and Office since people naturally resist spending $300+ for software on a $259 computer. That is why we now get Windows Starter (originaly intended for developing countries) on US netbooks.

    Similarly, I think it is fair for folks using $99 readers (definitely coming) to question the merits of $20-30 ebooks and even $12.99 ebooks. Plus, if low cost readers do proliferate and the Price-Fix-Five don’t relent, their lower-priced competitors will be only to happy to serve that flood of new readers and make up the difference in volume.

    On the matter of pre-empting other big consumer electronics companies that is *definitely* a big pro for B&N; but I wouldn’t say they have sewn up control of the anything-but-Amazon camp. Not long-term. What they have done is raised the bar to entry by lowering the margin, possibly killing the profitability for those products *in the US*. However, unless B&N goes global *fast*, there is still a chance for Samsung, Acer, iRiver, et al, to establish themselves and ramp up economies of scale outside NorthAmerica and come in later, with a newer generation product.

    Amazon, on the other hand; is already playing globally (as best as regional rights allow, of course) so from the point of view of kneecapping future competitors, the price cut helps them immensely since any increase in market share against competitor hardware will bolster their ebookstore against the local Adobe DRM licensees.

    All-in-all, the biggest effect of the price war (even if it ends with a truce at today’s pricing–which I doubt) will likely be on the bystanders caught in the crossfire; Sony and the other hardware-only vendors, Kobo/Borders, the non-US ebookstores, and (quite likely) the Price-Fix-Five.

    Now to wait and see how the landscape changes and what the august second act brings.

  12. gouss,
    In no way is the Nook’s 3G that is limited to the store more valuable to Kindle users who value having 3G access to all websites.

    The WiFi capability is not as important, since we have computers and netbooks (and some, iPads) at home and certainly at the office. But I’d like it added.

    In fact, I know many with smartphones who haven’t bothered setting up WiFi in their homes.

    3G works well at home for downloading books and now I use the Kindle’s 3G anywhere I happen to be for getting information when out on the street. No hotspot hunt.

    The cost of allowing full free 3G access globally as the Kindle does now to over 50 countries (officially) since the new software update that interfaces with Facebook/Twitter — which we can use creatively rather than just as planned — is something that would be greeted with awe if the Nook were doing it, but it’s not.

    Maybe it’s the idea of David and Goliath, though B&N with all its physical stores, history, and connections, is another Goliath that we once lamented was causing good small bookstores to close. B&N’s finances are not in best state, apparently, as 3 of 4 B&N’s closed in my area but my favorite one is near my home. As a member, I’m counting on them surviving.

  13. @Torres: See nothing to disagree with in your last post, other than to say you need a blog! We need to come back to these predictions 6 months to a year from now. They might well prove spot on.
    @Andrys: Sorry but I’m at a loss as to your complaint. Nowhere did I compare Nook vs Kindle 3G, or Kindle 3G to the Nook WiFi for that matter. But since you bring it up – sure the 3G is great & so is some of the other Kindle functions. Ask how many Nook users would sacrifice their Overdrive library functions for say the 3G might surprise you though. Choosing between different devices depends on what is important to the user – worldwide 3G? library books? etc.
    Well B&N is no doubt taking some hits in their physical stores but their finances looks reasonable.This idea that B&N is the next Blockbuster has little to it other than laziness. Some of the stores will have to go & with some 250 leases coming up by end of 2012 B&N can pick & choose. You seem reasonable but some Amazon partisans seem to have a pathological dislike for physical stores, ‘brick and mortal stores’ as they’re called.
    What this latest move does signify is that B&N is determined to be one of the big guys – as Felix noted they are serious about digital. Only the future holds the prove of success or failure, but I would give them a better chance than any of the big publishers.

  14. Gouss,
    You shouldn’t be “at a loss” regarding what I said.

    I was responding to your statement that the Nook’s WiFi was a small advantage over Amazon’s Kindle, which doesn’t have WiFi and then followed that with wondering why Amazon didn’t match the Nook’s $149 for its non-3G model.

    I was answering your question. 3G offered in the way that Amazon does, with full-web access, globally, is costly, as you must know. That is not a matter of whether or not the feature is meaningful to the individual buyer — it’s a reality of cost and pricing.

    Normally, vendors will pay attention to the most equivalent model, and it seems Amazon did.

    As for the public library Overdrive function of the Nook, coincidentally, I did mention it on another thread the same day where I felt it made sense to, saying that the Nook’s advantages are direct reading of ePub and the public library e-books access where one’s local library has an attractive selection of contemporary e-books (some don’t).

    Here, though, I addressed your pricing question that was related to the WiFi advantage you stated.

  15. @Andrys:Well I’m at fault for my inability to express my thoughts clearly enough, sorry. My reasoning goes like this: B&N has a (small) advantage at present because their entry level model WiFi only Nook is not (yet) being matched by a similar Kindle model at that pricing point of $149. Rumours are rife that a WiFi (only?) Kindle is coming though.
    To create a new benchmark for 3G enabled devices – & giving B&N a bloody nose – Amazon could have dropped to $149 causing everybody else to run for cover. Due probably to the economics – ‘reality of cost and pricing’ – they did not do so, opting instead to match the most equivalent model.

    You are of course correct that a comparison featurewise between the Kindle & WiFi only Nook is pretty silly. The only comparison here is of price. At present it is impossible to know if the $40 difference will make any difference saleswise. At other boards commentators I respect have suggested it might but only time will tell.

  16. gouss,
    No problem. We’re here to see what’s up and talk out our usually slightly different takes on the scene.

    Interesting, I don’t see the $149 Nook model as much of an advantage for B&N over Amazon because by its existence it’s saying there’s something that’s missing from it that is in the $50-higher Nook and the $40 higher Kindle.

    The ebook market was said to be dead until Amazon got the idea to include ~60-second downloads of books from wherever you happened to be. That changed everything.

    At a good price point eventually, B&N matched that part of it, though not a number of other features.

    The color screen is no small draw, nor the new slice of color from any web page you might be on via WiFi. I love the looks of the design and I like the screen contrast better than the Kindle’s.

    You’re right that Amazon has something up its sleeve come July/August and if any feature helps the Kindle, it’d be more the promise of better screen contrast than the speed. Since reports stress it’ll be lighter, I wonder if it’s more a change in the DX, which was recently rumored to be photographed in a black model in a Seattle cafe. But the DX doesn’t need better screen contrast. It’s beautiful. Some models/batches of the Kindle 2 need it though. So, who knows. With the newest Freescale (sp?) chip it’d be cheaper while faster.

    As one who likes the Kindle’s much more direct (less menu steps and merely typing to start a search w/good results + good dictionary right there w/ a summary definition of the word your cursor is on, displaying on the bottom status bar), I have a hard time with the many menu steps of the Nook for everything I love to do: Search, dictionary, but most of all annotations because people find it hard to ever find them again except to page up to them.

    But anyone not having used another e-reader or who doesn’t prize the features I do and wouldn’t miss them, will love it for what it can do. I think the Nook will sell a lot of those $149 units.
    I also think that both the Nook and the Kindle have an advantage depending on what the buyer wants so I think the Nook Jr. might steal from its own $199 model.

    About time a Wi-Fi-only Kindle was made and they should make one w/o wireless at all but with the study tools many value, especially for younger members of a family.

    If they could do that for $99 while keeping good, direct-access features, they’d get full families because the account-sharing is a quietly appreciated bonus in that it has no restrictions such as household or family relationships.
    The deregistering of one Kindle for sharing another’s account is easily reversible. The Nook doesn’t have that flexibility and has some penalties involved.

    But, re aesthetics alone? I think the Nook wins on that. As well as the public library access. I hope they provide good competition for each other for a long time 🙂

    The thing that bothers me about B&N and their customer support (saying this as a member), is that they refuse refunds for e-books even when pages are missing or the formatting is unreadable. The policy is very rigid. There are no exceptions.

    Amazon allows e-book returns for 7 days if we find it below our standards for formatting or for not having all the pages…

    Amazon seems more secure about its unit. 30 days easy return policy, full refund. B&N 14 days w/small restocking fee.

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