The Battle of the eReaders – Why I Want B&N to Win

I am secretly cheering for Barnes and Noble.

The Nook is in competition with Amazon’s Kindle in the U.S. eReading market and is currently losing the uphill battle for dominance. This article from The Shatzkin Files, the main focus of my response here, reports that a major bookseller in the U.K., Waterstones, will now be selling Kindle instead of pursuing their rumoured allegiance to B&N. Shatzkin also mentions Kobo’s alliance with W.H. Smith. Selling the Kindle instead of widening the market in the UK to the Nook ensures that Amazon’s hold on 90% of the eReading market-share (though both Shatzkin and I find that hard to believe) is more difficult to break.

And I do believe Amazon’s hold should be broken. I am rooting for the underdog, despite B&N having no foothold in the Canadian market at all. I have used the Kobo eReaders, and as an employee of a certain well-known Canadian bookseller, I have firsthand experience returning many, many broken Kobo readers. The Kobo customer service line often blows off their customers, despite their one year warranty.  However, the best feature of the Kobo is that the owner of the device can access external ePub books, including library books. Kobo users are not locked in to one online bookstore. Nook has a similar attitude towards allowing owners to use their eReaders to download books outside of B&, but emphasizes that the Nook owner has access to 2.5 million eBooks through their website and should be the user’s first stop.

Amazon has not allowed Kindle users to borrow eBooks from the library – something that seems to be changing in the United States, but has not yet made its way into Canada. Now that Kobo has been sold to a Japanese company, I believe that any competition would be a  welcome addition to the Canadian market. Although I cannot see B&N making any in-roads into the Canadian market soon, if ever, I would love to see them try.

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