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CNET has picked up on a rumor that B&N will show off a full-color version of the Nook tomorrow. The supposedly reliable source reports that the new Nook will be Android-based (like the original) and feature a 7-inch screen and a price of $250.
It’s worth taking a look at the lengthy comment string on the post to get an idea of the issues involved; the commenters at CNET are a lot more tech-savvy than I am. But this does raise some issues from a comics reader’s point of view. Most people focus on the screen: The iPad’s backlit screen is bright and makes the colors pop, but it also shortens the battery life and is hard to read in sunlight. Dedicated Kindle and Nook readers prefer their e-paper screens because they are easier on the eyes. The early Kindle had terrible resolution, rendering comics unreadable (I tried), but they seem to have overcome that problem, and the Japanese company Animate is actually publishing yaoi manga direct to Kindle.
But as Steve Jobs could tell you, it’s not all about the technology. Everyone talks about the iTunes store, but I recently had a conversation with a creator who pointed out that when people want books, they go to Amazon, not iTunes. In fact, iTunes makes it hard to find comics unless you are using a dedicated app, because the store doesn’t have a separate section for them. Neither does Amazon, but the search function works more smoothly and displays the results in a more useful manner (with product details right on the search page). So for someone who is looking for the digital equivalent of poking around a comics store, a retailer who specializes in books may have an edge.
And for someone who is just looking to read comics, $250 looks a lot better than $499, the starting price for the cheapest iPad.