Critics Corner the Nook

The Nook Revolution is coming undone before it even had a fighting chance.

Barnes & Noble's (NYSE: BKS  ) seemingly revolutionary e-book reading device is getting the cold shoulder from the tech-reviewer elite.

  • "Every one of the Nook's vaunted distinctions from Amazon's Kindle comes fraught with disappointing footnotes," writes David Pogue in The New York Times.
  • "After testing the Nook for about a week, I don't think it's as good as the Kindle, at least not yet," The Wall Street Journal's Walter Mossberg reveals.

Initial shipping delays killed the Nook's chances of legitimately taking on Amazon.com's (Nasdaq: AMZN  ) Kindle and Sony (NYSE: SNE  ) this holiday season, but lackluster reviews now threaten the product's viability come next year, too.

Barnes & Noble already had a tight window for a successful launch. The buzz is heavy for Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) to roll out a reader-worthy tablet device. New reports have surfaced this week that Dell (Nasdaq: DELL  ) will introduce a tablet with a five-inch screen next year, powered by Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) Android.

In short, by blowing this holiday season and having to overcome tech-review objections, Barnes & Noble's once-revolutionary reader may not have a legitimate chance until the 2010 holiday season -- and by then, it may be an entirely different ball game.

The Nook's one shot at salvation is that once Barnes & Noble licks its supply problems, it will be able to trumpet its reader to its real-world customers. The superstore chain remains the premier physical hub for fans of the written word, and providing in-store models will help sway skeptical book lovers.

However, even that bricks-and-mortar advantage has a tight window. If Amazon, Apple, or somebody else sets itself as the e-book standard, it will be hard for the Nook to stand out in a strong crowd.

Does Barnes & Noble's Nook stand a chance, even with these initial hiccups? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.

Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers selection. Apple and Amazon.com are Motley Fool Stock Advisor picks. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has been shopping online for about as long as Amazon.com has been in business. He owns a Kindle, but he doesn't own shares in any of the companies in this story. Rick is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.


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Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On December 11, 2009, at 2:35 PM, bigfish9999 wrote:

    The Kindle and Nook have black and white E-ink screen. But I don't think Dell and Apple will make black and white screened devices. The color LCD screen will give readers a hard time with their eyes. Unless color E-ink exists.

  • Report this Comment On December 11, 2009, at 2:47 PM, woodensword wrote:

    Kindle and Nook have black and white E-ink screens. But apple and dell will use color LCD screens which are harsh to readers' eyes, unless color E-ink exists now.

  • Report this Comment On December 11, 2009, at 5:56 PM, Fool wrote:

    As with everything "version 1.0" the nook has problems. However the nook has lots of potential with more advanced hardware (then Kindel), a great open OS (Android) and the money and marketing support to drive it to success in the marketplace. Don't count B&N out. There are many reasons why they are solid and folks like Border's are not. B&N is smart, conservative and forward thinking.

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