US bookseller Barnes & Noble announced price reductions today on its Nook Color eReader (now $150) and Nook Tablet (8GB/16GB now $180/200, respectively) devices.
The price cuts by Barnes & Noble keep the bookseller competitive in both the eReader and Tablet markets. As other vendors work to make new product announcements in advance of the end-of-year buying season, Barnes & Noble has decided to extend the lifecycle of its current products even further.
Barnes & Noble has arguably the most compelling color eReader solution available (in any country). The online book catalog is about 80% similar to the titles offered by Amazon’s Kindle store in addition to color content not found on Kindle. As a point of comparison, Amazon does not offer a color eReader; only its Kindle Fire tablet supports a color display.
The challenge Barnes & Noble faces with its Nook line is the long-term viability of dedicated eReaders and the growth in its audience. Tablets are certainly capable of being effective digital reader devices through the use of a bookstore-supported app, but at the penalty of being more expensive than a dedicated CE reader. B&N has a limited audience – only the US. With eReader purchases dominated by the US and its Baby Boomer generation (while the next US generation – Gen X – favors the more versatile tablet market), the total available market for Barnes & Noble is shrinking.
At the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter much about the hardware device prices for dedicated eBook Readers since content is king. Consumers are buying the eReader device that gives them access to the content catalog most aligned with their reading interests.