For those who don't follow publishing industry news, there's been a lot of noise recently about Barnes & Noble's new ebook store. Oooh, gonna give Amazon a run for their money, says the Wall Street Journal. "An implicit stab at Amazon," says the New York Times.
They're dreaming. Amazon has already won this game. It has the devices, the content, the customers--readers and authors.
I don't know what planet these pundits live on. BN.com will sell their own proprietary format (eReader)--it won't work on Kindle or Sony Reader, though, hey, it will be good on the Plastic Logic reader when that, y'know, exists. (Plastic Logic, which is so big it won't fit into your purse or your pocket, will be out in 2010. Supposedly.) It'll work on iPhones etc, too--but there's already Stanza (owned by Amazon) and Kindle reader apps. Also, Apple may well launch their own tablet pc/reader/smartphone/all around awesome gadget before 2010. BN don't have much content (apart from public domain stuff--and, hey, why not get that free from Project Gutenberg and others?). They don't have nearly as many customers as Amazon--and buying books on Amazon is so easy, why would their users switch, especially as BN won't be underpricing the already low $9.99 price Amazon has forced the market to accept for frontlist titles.
So where's the competition? There isn't any. The Emperor has no clothes. Amazon, despite their steal-the-book-back ways, is king. It will remain so until and unless Apple ever decides to topple them.