Barnes & Noble invited us all to a fancy boathouse by the river, and they're very excited about something! Ok, it's the Nook, which they spectacularly leaked (again) a few hours ago. But we're here live anyway, so, join us!?
4:24: Barnes & Noble's CEO has taken the stage. He's planning on unveiling something, he says, but first, some history!
4:27: You see, Barnes & Noble has done a lot of things with paper books, evidently. All of which are tangential to the matter at hand, that ridiculous two-screened Kindle killer thing that we're all itching to lay eyes on. Sidenote: this sounds like a eulogy for paper more than anything else.
4:28: Ah, on to the ebook stuff. William Lynch, President, is here to talk about electricity and the internet and such.
4:31: Some relevant background: Barnes & Noble has over a million books in their ebook store, and have seen over three million downloads for their mobile apps. They've even decided to give a quick nod to B&N-compatible hardware from iRex and Plastic Logic, which is awfully sportsmanlike.
4:33: Yes! On with the Nook. The intro video is standard boilerplate: the screen is "crystal clear," downloads happen in "seconds." Of course you already know this.
4:36: Now we've got hardware. It exists, in spacetime! It looks smaller than I would've thought in a human being's hand. Interestingly, Android earned a shoutout—the OS was sorely missing from the prior leaked launch materials, despite that fact that it's total nerdbait.
4:38: The onscreen keyboard—on the bottom screen, natch—looks spacious but kind of gridlike, rather than staggered, which could make typing a little awkward. The bottom screen turns off when you haven't used it in a while, which makes sense: it'd kill battery life, and if you're using it for controls, you probably don't need to see it most of the time anyway.
4:40: Malcom Gladwell is here to read one of his books for a few seconds. I mean, hey, nice essays and all, but that's a strange looking man.
4:43: They're putting the Nook in all of their stores—this could be kind of a coup for them, since Amazon doesn't even have stores. This is what their giant retail displays will look like.
4:47: If you take a Nook to a brick-and-mortar store, you get free Wi-Fi, which is nice, I guess. More importantly, you get to browse an entire ebook for free each time you visit, which is sort of like a digital equivalent to shelf browsing. Sort of.
4:49: Aaaaaand that's it, at least for the tragically gutted announcement portion of tonight's proceedings. The Nook, as we expected, will ship by the end of November, and preorders will open tonight. People who were lucky enough to squeeze a preorder through earlier today know that "late November" means "November 30th."
There's a Q&A session coming up in a few minutes, so they're telling press to stay. At the same time, they're blasting the stupid "TONIGHT'S GONNA BE A GOOD NIGHT, MAZEL TOV" song, which says to me, "Go." We'll stick around, but only out of a sense of duty.
4:56: We're back, and questions kick off with a question about ePub formats. They like it, which is why their entire catalog will switch to it when the Nook launches.
4:58: So, what about Android? They like it because it's optimized for small screens, but they're not saying a whole lot about apps. They, ahem, "haven't announced" anything about app development, but they're comfortable using the phrase "when we do," which is veeeery promising.
4:58: Says the rep about the prospect of a browser, "browsers on E ink are clumsy." Yeah! Stick it to E Ink! He's right though.
5:00: How does lending work? It'll work between any Barnes & Noble account, meaning anything with a Barnes & Noble reader app—iPhone, BlackBerry, PC, another B&N-compatible reader, etc.
5:06: Now Matt's got a question. Actually, like three: Is there anything exclusive to the Nook that you can't get in other apps? No.
And back to Android, anything else on those apps? Yeah, they're open to it, including games, but they're not making any announcements yet. (Again, promising!)
And finally, what kind of touchscreen tech does the bottom screen use? It's capacitive (but I don't think it's multitouch).
5:10: Now my turn, to follow up on this Android business, which all seems a little half-done: They've got reader apps on iPhone and BlackBerry, and now the Nook, which runs Android, so where's the Android app? "We're watching it closely" is an odd answer, but there was a tacit acknowledgment that the inconsistency seems weird. I'm reading this as a likely yes for an Android app, but there's really no way to tell when it'll come out.
5:12: And another, is there any desktop client software? No—it'll mount via microUSB, and show up as mass storage. Book transfers are intended to be wireless. USB's there for music and photo transfers, as well as charging.
5:13: They're strangely happy to say they're developing a Windows Mobile app—"we are," they say—so why so coy about Android?
5:18: Everyone's left the stage, and they're playing GO AWAY music again, so that's it. OR IS IT? (It is.)