Can Barnes & Noble, Plastic Logic disrupt Amazon's Kindle?

Plastic Logic to enter the e-book reader market in 2010

It looks like Plastic Logic is following the Palm Pre playbook by shipping its new e-book reader two years after the market leader. Amazon will be on its third, if not fourth, version of the Kindle by the time Plastic Logic ships its product in 2010. Still, that hasn't stopped the company from making a couple of beefy announcements.

First of all, it is teaming up with Barnes & Noble to provide a bookstore of more than 700,000 e-book titles. While that's technically more than Amazon's 300,000 titles for the Kindle, if you scratch below the surface, it's less than meets the eye.  Barnes & Noble has struck a deal with Google to provide access to out-of-print and 500,000 public domain books. While there's some value to out-of-print titles, there's often a reason they are out of print. And if you're hankering to read copyright-expired public domain works like Homer, Dickens, and Tolstoy, more power to you, you book geek. (You can find plenty more public domain books over at Project Gutenberg.)

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In reality, Barnes & Noble's store is about as significant as an iTunes competitor announcing it has an exclusive contract on Czech violin concertos (not that I have anything against violin concertos or Czechs).

Secondly, Plastic Logic announced that it will working with AT&T support wireless download of books, just like the Kindle does.

Still, I can applaud Plastic Logic for getting out there and creating some noise. But so far, there's nothing to indicate a strategy from Plastic Logic or Barnes & Noble that is disruptive: just some nice incremental improvements on a me-too strategy. And as I mentioned in yesterday's post, it's pretty tough to take on a larger incumbent by playing their game on their turf.

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