Borders and Amazon try to steal B&N's e-book thunder

There's strong speculation that Barnes & Noble will be introducing the Nook 2, aka Nook Color, at an event today. In fact it's almost a sure thing, given that CNET got hold of an image from an advertisement for a screen protector for the device. The rumor mill says this is still an Android-based device, but with a single screen and carrying a price tag of $249. Lending even more credibility to the rumor is an article in the Wall Street Journal talking about a new "Nook Kids" program of children's books, some of which are enhanced. Enhanced implies color at the very least, and while the WSJ mentions that Nook Kids titles will be available on the iPad, it's hard to imagine that Barnes & Noble won't be intent on delivering these titles on its own hardware as well.

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So we'll know more about the Nook later today. In the meantime Amazon and Borders both seem determined to try to distract us from B&N's news. First Borders announced a range of price cuts, free e-books and gift cards for purchasers of their line of e-readers. Some of the deals are very short-term (ending Oct. 31) and wow, have they ever made this complex, so I'll just refer you to the source link (or better yet, Borders.com), but at the bottom end, the e-Ink Kobo eReader and the Aluratek Libre are both down to $99. So that's the little fish. As to the big fish, Amazon wants us to know that Kindle is selling nicely, thank you very much. Sales of the new Kindle have already surpassed Kindle 2 sales from October-December 2009. Which seems like imprecise good news – the new Kindle has been out for about two months – but of course Amazon didn't release any hard numbers. And Kindle books are selling too. Amazon says that for the top 10 bestselling books the Kindle version is out-selling hardcover and paperback books combined by 2:1. Once again, Amazon is being vague. What are these top 10 bestselling books? Amazon lists the "Top 100" under a Bestsellers listing, but checking the top 10 items on this list reveals that some aren't published yet and don't list a Kindle version. So either the titles on that list that do have a Kindle version are making up for these missing titles, or Amazon is referring to another list. Maybe they're talking about the Kindle Store Top 100? Your guess is as good as mine. They do specify "Amazon sold more than 3 times as many Kindle books in the first nine months of 2010 as in the first nine months of 2009. so it seems clear that the Kindle line is doing well, which begs the question of why Amazon is so reticent about giving out hard numbers.

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