Barnes & Noble's new Nookcolor Reader Tablet impressed many of the publishers who were gathered at the retailer's New York headquarters to watch the unveiling of the $249 device that will begin shipping around November 19. The addition of color "will put children's publishers into the e-book game," said Jon Anderson, president and publisher of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing.
Also in attendance was Susan Katz, president and publisher of HarperCollins Children's Book Group, who observed that the presentation, which featured actors and actresses going through a typical day using the Nookcolor, seemed aimed primarily at women, the people most likely to buy picture books. Katz believes that the Nookcolor will provide a needed boost to picture book sales, and will also change the way authors and illustrators create picture books in the future, requiring them to keep in mind how the book will look on a screen. She said Harper authors and illustrators whose books are part of the Nookcolor launch were very happy with how the books look.
Some of the children's picture books will appear as enhanced e-books, and there was some skepticism about how well enhanced e-books will sell, with several publishers noting that enhanced e-books, both children and adult, look a lot like CD-ROM versions of books, a format that bombed for most publishers. At a panel at the Frankfurt Book Fair, Simon & Schuster CEO Carolyn Reidy noted that the enhanced e-book of Nixonland had sold 1,200 copies.
Still, publishers were hopeful that the Nookcolor will be as successful as B&N CEO William Lynch believes it will. Lynch predicted that Nookcolor will be one of the holiday's bestselling items and should quickly surpass sales of the original E-Ink Nook, which he said has sold more than one million units. Nookcolor will be sold in Nook boutiques in all B&N trade bookstores as well as in Wal-Mart, Best Buy, and Books-A-Million, which will sell Nook products as its only digital reading device.
There will be only 130 picture books at launch, but B&N expects to double that by the end of the year, and publishers have many titles in development. One segment of books that will not be available in color at launch is graphic novels, but those should be added in the first part of 2011.