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Handhelds Books Technology

Nook Color Rooted — Will B&N Embrace the Tablet? 181

Posted by timothy
from the what-technology-wants dept.
itwbennett writes "It can browse the web, edit Office docs, run apps. Is it a low-cost, low-function e-reader? Nope, it's a Nook. And now that XDA has rooted it, how Barnes & Noble responds will determine whether the Nook has a tablet future, says blogger Ryan Faas. 'If the device can be turned into a capable Android tablet (which technically it already is) easily, the $250 price tag certainly beats out some of the competition.'"
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Nook Color Rooted — Will B&N Embrace the Tablet?

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  • Reaction (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Barny (103770) <bakadamage-slashdot@yahoo.com> on Wednesday December 01, 2010 @05:52AM (#34402098) Homepage Journal

    How they react will likely depend on their price setting method.

    If the nook was priced under cost and expected to be subsidised by ebook sales, then they will come down on this like apple. If they are making money on the thing in its own right, they may react like a BSD developer.

    • Re:Reaction (Score:4, Interesting)

      by FatLittleMonkey (1341387) on Wednesday December 01, 2010 @06:16AM (#34402200)

      Mind you, loss leaders (which subsidised hardware for expensive consumables are) are a distortion of a free market. Anything which undermines it is wholesome and good.

      (Used to buy for a small retailer. Often the shelf price at large retailers was less than the wholesale price from the manufacturer/distributor. But they had "Three per customer" type limits, which turns out to be illegal under my State's consumer laws (written specifically to punish loss-leaders, apparently.) Used to make for fun public arguments.)

      • Re:Reaction (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Barny (103770) <bakadamage-slashdot@yahoo.com> on Wednesday December 01, 2010 @06:29AM (#34402254) Homepage Journal

        Yeah, work in retail myself, in the past have been asked by a boss to go to a competitor and buy all their stock of one item, because they were selling it cheaper than our wholesaler.

        And yes, we have similar laws in my state too :)

        • Yeah, work in retail myself, in the past have been asked by a boss to go to a competitor and buy all their stock of one item,

          Actually, that's the only exemption under our law. You can't buy them out. (That's meant to prevent a larger company (with deeper pockets) from ruining a genuine sale for a smaller competitor.)

        • by tlhIngan (30335)

          Yeah, work in retail myself, in the past have been asked by a boss to go to a competitor and buy all their stock of one item, because they were selling it cheaper than our wholesaler.

          This happens far more often than you think, actually. And it doesn't have to be a loss-leader, even! If you're a small store, you're a bother to the distributor. You don't move enough product, yet they have to stock some for you. If it's a hot item, you'll find you're the first to go on "allocation" and the last to get one or t

          • My favorite local gaming store won't stock HeroScape because Wal-Mart sells it for less than he can buy it for. People would buy it from him when Wal-Mart was out-of-stock, then play his copy, buy a copy from Wal-Mart and return the Wal-Mart copy to him on the 30th day after purchase.

            If you buy a billion units you get the item a lot cheaper than if you buy 10. That's true of everything.

      • Re:Reaction (Score:5, Funny)

        by noidentity (188756) on Wednesday December 01, 2010 @06:35AM (#34402284)

        Mind you, loss leaders (which subsidised hardware for expensive consumables are) are a distortion of a free market.

        Indeed, they shouldn't be allowed to do such a thing in a free market.

        • I'm sorry, s/he meant to say "competitive" and "open" market. As we all know, "free" markets are totalitarian monopolies waiting to happen.

        • by retchdog (1319261)

          the meaning of "free" in "free market" is more tortured than that of "free" in "free software".

          not that either one is wrong per se, but i just wish we could stop overloading that word. restricting it to individual human freedoms would be a start maybe.

      • Re:Reaction (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Registered Coward v2 (447531) on Wednesday December 01, 2010 @07:15AM (#34402464)

        Mind you, loss leaders (which subsidised hardware for expensive consumables are) are a distortion of a free market. Anything which undermines it is wholesome and good.

        How? The consumer can decide what they want to buy and where - and get slower prices as a result. If consumables are the real profit center, a store could not sell the loss leader and put some of the savings to lower consumable prices; so the store selling the loss leader either lowers consumable prices or loses money. In the end, the consumer benefits from free market prices.

        A free market allows individuals to set prices and determine desired profits; not some manufacturer or government. Nor does it ensure everyone will make a profit.

        • Laws against slavery restrict the free market too. The free market is not an unmitigated good.

      • Re:Reaction (Score:4, Insightful)

        by jellomizer (103300) on Wednesday December 01, 2010 @08:35AM (#34402866)

        Please explain how this is a distortion of a free market.
        You have supply, demand and a fixed cost.
        Now if the supply and demand equilibrium falls under your fixed cost. That usually means that it may not be the best product to sell. However if over the use of the product there is the ability to bring in more revenue. Then the loss would be considered as an investment. Much the same as an advertising campaign. As right now the cost of the ereader is more then the market wants they will loose a lot more in content.

        It is a classic give away the razor and sell the blades.

        Now yes if it being sold under price B&N will make a fuss as they are giving a way a product that costs them money for no return.

        • Re:Reaction (Score:5, Insightful)

          by delinear (991444) on Wednesday December 01, 2010 @09:28AM (#34403204)
          Agreed - loss leaders in themselves are not a distortion of the free market. What would be a distortion is the producer being able to use the law to prevent people buying the razor and then using their own cheap blades (or in B&N's case, someone buying the Nook and not using it to buy books if it is indeed an example of a loss leader). A free market should allow you to come up with whatever promotional ideas you want to make money, but similarly it should allow your customers to ignore your ideas and do their own thing. The second those ideas have some element that is enforced by law (i.e. you can ONLY use product X with service Y and tampering with X to allow Z is illegal) it is no longer free.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Opportunist (166417)

      This pretty much hits the nail on the head.

      It could well turn out that the interesting price tag is only possible because the tethering supposedly recovers the lower hardware price. You see the same done from printers to cellphones to coffee makers, and it's getting more and more commonplace these days.

      And while I do find this pricing policy despicable and there should be something done about this kind of racketeering (face it, that's what it is. You bought my hardware, now buy the consumables with me or yo

    • Could you explain 'come down like Apple'? Apple's been rather passive when it comes to the OSX86 and Jailbreaking community. They do patch the bugs that allow jailbreaking, but that's to be expected.

      They did go hard after Pystar, but they were looking to turn a profit from it.

    • Re:Reaction (Score:4, Insightful)

      by jenningsthecat (1525947) on Wednesday December 01, 2010 @11:29AM (#34404416)

      Barnes and Noble is, first and foremost, a book retailer, dependant on and beholden to publishers. Since rooting is the first step towards defeating Digital Restrictions Management, I suspect that B&N will fight rooting as hard as they can for as long as they can, regardless of the Nook's pricing model.

    • then they will come down on this like apple.

      Really? All I've seen Apple do is fix security vulnerabilities in their iOS devices. I haven't seen them, "come down" on jailbreaking. No one's gone to jail for jailbreaking.

      • That's because the Library of Congress made jailbreaking of phones legal by adding it to the list of DMCA exceptions.
    • The non-3G version gets free AT&T hotspot access. The 3G version gets free 3G access. They want you to use that for their books. If you root your tablet, you can download anything you want. I don't think they'll be subsidizing a bunch of us playing Doom for Nook across AT&T's network. They want to subsidize us buying their books.

    • Also, this will depend on whether rooting the device enables piracy.

  • Does this mean...? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by IBitOBear (410965)

    That I can then get _my_ books off of my nook onto my laptop in a readable format?

    Seriously, at $10 for the book or $9 for the ebook (real sample prices for Harry Dresden novels, rounded up by one cent from nook store) there needs to be some way for me to recover "my property" off the device other than buying another one.

    No, actually, I don't own a nook because of the "not really my book" and so the super-shallow discounts for the rental of a title made getting one "kinda dumb" IMHO.

    B&N will _have_ to e

    • by DrXym (126579)
      I expect at worst you could recover the encrypted files. You might be able to get the plaintext if B&N were foolish enough to implement their crypto in software only. If they were smart then crypto is done in hardware and therefore it is more difficult but not impossible to recover the plaintext.

      The most obvious way to recover plaintext from any ebook is to lay the thing on a flatbed scanner and take a picture of every page. I expect most OCR software would work extremely well given the quality of the

    • Can you run adobe digital editions? If you use that to manage your ebooks on your pc, you can put them on any device associated with the software.

      I know this works with the 2-week loans from my library, I haven't checked yet if it works with books downloaded from B&N. At the moment, though, it doesn't look to me like you can move stuff *from* the nook onto the pc in this way.

      You can, however, read the stuff in your nook library on any device with nook software. This includes PC software, an iPod app,

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        There is no PC software, there is only windows software. Not every personal computer runs windows.

    • by _xeno_ (155264) on Wednesday December 01, 2010 @09:38AM (#34403288) Homepage Journal

      That I can then get _my_ books off of my nook onto my laptop in a readable format?

      I don't know about the Nook Color, but for the Nook itself, yes you can: easily. Without jailbreaking.

      First, connect the Nook via USB. It's just a USB storage device using FAT32. All your downloaded ebooks will be in "my B&N downloads" on the root of the device. Annoyingly they're named by random numbers, but whatever, you can still grab them and get them off the device.

      They will be DRMed, but the DRM is cracked and trivial: the key is the name on your credit card plus the credit card number itself. The idea is that you won't be willing to distribute the key. (Which is somewhat silly, since the key is actually an SHA1 hash of your credit card and name, and therefore you're really not giving anything out.)

      Just Google for "ignoblekey" and "ignobleepub" and you should find two Python scripts to handle decrypting the files.

      Finally, you'll need an application that supports reading EPUB files on your laptop. Calibre is apparently the best choice for Linux, so try "emerge calibre" and see if that works.

      Also, there's no limit to the number of devices that you can copy the epub files to. As long as you log in to the Nook software using your account, you should be able to download books to any device that supports the Nook software. Which doesn't include Linux. Or Mac OS X. But does include the iPad, making me wonder why anyone would want to get a Nook Color.

      • by xaxa (988988) on Wednesday December 01, 2010 @10:36AM (#34403834)

        They will be DRMed, but the DRM is cracked and trivial: the key is the name on your credit card plus the credit card number itself. The idea is that you won't be willing to distribute the key. (Which is somewhat silly, since the key is actually an SHA1 hash of your credit card and name, and therefore you're really not giving anything out.)

        I might not be able to work out what name+number made 298AC...898EAB, but B&N certainly can -- they have a list of all the name+number combinations.

    • by brandorf (586083)
      Couldn't you have just used the Nook PC app under WINE? And on the subject, at least in comparison to Kindle, the DRM of B&N books is pretty easy to remove, leaving you with an unprotected ePub file. Though, I don't really recommend doing this for viewing on the Nook, just as a backup, as you lose all the social and sync features on side-loaded books.
    • Can't you just download your bn.com-purchased books from the "My NOOK Library" section of their site? I don't have a Nook, but I do purchase eBooks from Barnes&Noble, and that is how I retrieve them.

      Of course, then I have to decrypt their files (I use a pair of python scripts [blogspot.com]), load them into Calibre (or any epub reader), and then convert them to the format I want. It would be much simpler if they came without DRM.

    • by jschottm (317343)

      (HEY Barnes and Nobel! If I could extend a nook account to include my Gentoo laptop as one of my five allowed clone devices, I would have bought the thing. Just Sayin...)

      You do realize that the cost of supporting one of the more obscure and arcane Linux distributions probably outweighs the income it would bring in, right? If you want to advocate for desktop Linux, you'll be far more effective if you ask for Fedora or Ubuntu support. Even that isn't all that likely to happen in the near future, but it beats

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        No, it would cost $0 to support. All they have to do is give out ePubs without drm. Then it can be read everywhere.

        Currently he can just crack their drm and do what he wants with the files anyway.

    • by taustin (171655)

      I own a Nook and, as of yesterday, a Nook Color. When you buy from B&N through the device, it downloads automatically, and I believe that copy is tied to that device. However, you can deregister that device, and download to another one whenever you want. More important, however, you can log in to your B&N account with any web browser, and download the .epub file, and "side load" it on to any device any time, or read it in any program that can read .epub files.

      So I'm not sure what your complaint it.

      A

    • by s73v3r (963317)

      Well, there is the Nook client software for PC/Mac, that lets you read their books on your computer. I think it even synchronizes the page you're on across devices. I don't think you can hook up a USB cable and get books off your Nook, however.

    • That I can then get _my_ books off of my nook onto my laptop in a readable format?

      AFAIK, any book you buy from the Nook store can be used on the Nook, on the free Nook PC app, on the free Nook iOS app, and on the free Nook Android app.

      Of course, nothing is requiring you to buy books from the Nook store to get use out of a Nook -- the Nook supports DRM-free ebooks in a number of popular formats (most importantly epub and PDF), which are available through a number of sources (both free and for-pay) on the int

  • by jack2000 (1178961) on Wednesday December 01, 2010 @07:32AM (#34402546)
    A BOOK READER, needs to get jailbroken. Way to go guys, way to go. What's next would you make me give you money to look at your ugly advertisement billboards by the side of the road?
    • by wiredog (43288)

      Or you can buy the Samsung Galaxy Tab, which doesn't need to be jailbroken.

      • Or you can buy the Samsung Galaxy Tab, which doesn't need to be jailbroken.

        And costs twice as much as a NOOKcolor.

        THe question is "how much is not jailbreaking worth to you". For most users, probably a lot -- but for plenty of geeks, jailbreaking isn't much of a cost (for some, even, its a negative cost.)

  • by Anonymous Coward

    As soon as I saw this thing was rooted, I ran out and bought one - partially because it is a really nice little Android tablet, but mostly because it's a damn nice reader. The first app I put on it was the Kindle app. It's arguably the best Kindle reader out there.

    I also bought some Nook books, which I had not done before.

    I would not have either purchased a Nook (I expect there will be better/cheaper Android tabs very shortly - look at all the dual core tegra tablets on the way...) or purchased any Nook B

    • by hatrisc (555862)
      Does the Kindle app require a menu and/or back button? That's my biggest concern with buying one. I'm certain that this i sa first step in liberating the NC in all it's glory, but the lack of the physical buttons makes me wonder how far this can actually go. One thing I've actually seen suggested is using the volume buttons for back and menu, which seems like a great idea--especially since volume control can be accessed from onscreen settings.
  • Who knew? I didn't think this generation's attention span lasted longer than 3 minutes.
    • You do know that at any given point in time there are multiple generations still living, right?
      • by Abstrackt (609015)

        Who knew? I didn't think this generation's attention span lasted longer than 3 minutes.

        You do know that at any given point in time there are multiple generations still living, right?

        Of course not! A fact like that would really take the wind out of a good rant! ;)

        I've taken my kids to the library regularly pretty much since they could do more than gurgle and throw up on my shirt. Every week or two we head down there, drop off a pile of books and leave with another, for free. I can browse the library's catalog online and have the books waiting for me by the time I show up. If my library doesn't have the book I can get it from another, for free.

        I've taught my kids to look for cheaper

    • Who knew? I didn't think this generation's attention span lasted longer than 3 minutes.

      Who knew? I didn't think any old people could use the internet.

    • Harry Potter (and books like it) saved the world of literature for the next generation as sad as that is. These books aren't high art, but they got a whole group of kids interested in reading that never would have otherwise.

  • I mean, it's almost all of the expense of a tablet, without the features, and you can't read it as well in the daytime as the original nook. B&N should focus on doing their core business - stuff people read - well.

    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      Because no one reads Car and Driver, Road and Track, Cycle World, Sports Illustrated, Mother Earth News, Maximum PC, , Time, Newsweek, Discovery, Scientific American, or any of those magazines full of color pictures.

  • Would it cost Barnes and Noble a penny to include the App Market?

    Why remove 95% of the functionality and make your product worth less to your customers? Are you worried that people will buy your tablet, and download the Kindle app? Then make your book store the best! Customers might just support your store because they enjoy your tablet.

    I want an Android tablet that I can flash and update with new releases, that has a decent touchscreen. Is that really too much too ask? Is there no company out there that wa

    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      Yes it would cost and they may not have the option too.
      Google has requirements for a device to get the App Market. It pretty much has to be a phone. Most tablets don't have the App Market. Also by creating their own app market they can make money off the apps. It is really that simple. So yes it will cost them money.
      Now I do feel B&N not putting the Kindle app on their reader is dumb as a box of rocks. I like a lot of people already have a Kindle. I would love to get this and use it as a reader and if t

      • The Galaxy Tablet has the Android App Market. I'm not sure why Archos and such haven't been given access yet.

        I'm assuming the build of Android on the tablet needs to handle resizing the apps for the resolution.

        • by b0bby (201198)

          I'm not sure why Archos and such haven't been given access yet.

          I thought it was that Google doesn't allow access to the Market if the device doesn't have 3G data.

        • by LWATCDR (28044)

          That is why I said most. The Galaxy is the only one I know that does have the market. I am not sure if the requirement is 3G data or maybe you can make calls for the Galaxy?
          Google may also require GPS ,compass , and or a camera for all I know. Which may be why the Galaxy tablet is so expensive and why the app market might not be an option for the Nook.

        • by ZosX (517789)

          Yes, and the galaxy also features phone functionality. It is just locked away for the us market, but otherwise you can use it to make calls.

          Think of it as an over sized galaxy s.

    • Would it cost Barnes and Noble a penny to include the App Market?

      Yes, including a competing app store would cost them many of the pennies they hope to make through selling apps via their own curated app store.

      That's not even to mention the fact that the Nook doesn't, as I understand it, meet the requirements to have access to the Android Market.

  • I use a Sony Ebook reader for many years. I will gladly buy a new one if it can run Android/TABLET features. E-ink displays are more comfortable than any backlit display. Meanwhile waiting for a DUAL SIM Android phone...
  • Used ebook market, will there be one?

    If I buy a $70 ebook for a class, finish the class, then want to sell the ebook, will I ever be able to do that? A year ago there was speculation about possibly sending the original publisher a cut every time such a transfer took place in a dedicated market, a type of ebay for ebooks. Anyone know of more recent developments on this? This is one of the biggest turn offs for me with digital content, steam especially.

  • by DCheesi (150068) on Wednesday December 01, 2010 @11:21AM (#34404300) Homepage

    The whole point of B&N (or Amazon) releasing their own e-reader is to lock people into buying e-books exclusively from them. I'm wiling to bet that they subsidize the cost of their devices in exchange for the expected profits from this vendor lock-in. If so, then every Nook that isn't used to buy e-books, or that is used to buy e-books from a rival source, represents a net loss for B&N. Allowing the Nook Color to remain rooted would encourage just such alternative uses, which is why I don't expect it to be tolerated.

    • The whole point of B&N (or Amazon) releasing their own e-reader is to lock people into buying e-books exclusively from them. I'm wiling to bet that they subsidize the cost of their devices in exchange for the expected profits from this vendor lock-in. If so, then every Nook that isn't used to buy e-books, or that is used to buy e-books from a rival source, represents a net loss for B&N. Allowing the Nook Color to remain rooted would encourage just such alternative uses, which is why I don't expect it to be tolerated.

      While Barnes and Noble would love it if you buy books from then, the Nook and Nook Color support Adobe Digital Editions and Overdrive. I can checkout books from my local library system as well. You can also buy books from any seller that supports epub and. So unlike Amazon, B&N does NOT have you locked into their store at all.

      • by Sir_Lewk (967686)

        You know what works great?

        Browsing the web on my Kindle 3 for freely available/public domain books from 3rd party websites, and having my unhacked Kindle download them straight into my collection for me.

        Yeah, that's some real heavy lockdown there.

        Not supporting Epub is nothing more than an annoyance. It's trivial to convert books to mobi, or other formats. Calibre does it for me...

    • by fermion (181285)
      For Amazon, they likely subsidize the cost of the cell service with ebooks. The costs of device is like the cost of the device, even if it only covers fixed cots.

      The reader is only part of the equation. One can perfectly well buy eBook from Amazon, for example, without paying for a Kindle. Amazon ebooks can be read on any number of devices. The same may be true for Nook. It is not so true for media sold through Apple.

      The point of an eBook reader is so the consumer buys ebooks. Without a reader, the

    • The whole point of B&N (or Amazon) releasing their own e-reader is to lock people into buying e-books exclusively from them.

      Then why do many readers (including both the Nook and Kindle)accept DRM-free content from other sources. And, I believe, the Nook even accepts DRM-laden content from other sources using compatible DRM.

      Because, that seems incompatible with locking people in to buying from the vendor's store exclusively.

      Now, buy bundling the vendor's store with the product and making it convenient,

  • Honestly I really don't understand the pricing behind some of the higher-end such as Samsung Galaxy pad.
    • by ZosX (517789)

      Early adopters always pay a premium. It is priced competitively with the high end android phones, which are also about $5-600.

  • Doesn't this thing have 3G with no monthly charge?

    • by iammani (1392285)

      Not on the color version. Free 3G is only available on $199 grey scale version.

    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      Doesn't this thing have 3G with no monthly charge?

      It's actually locked down something fierce. Unlike Amazon, where you get free 3G, the nook's 3G is limited to B&N only. You cannot go anywhere else unless you can bounce it through B&N's servers. Access to anything else (via the web browser) is WiFi-only.

      (Yes, you can do that - it's how carriers can differentiate between a featurephone dataplan, a blackberry dataplan, a smartphone dataplan, tethering plan, and full VPN dataplans. All overring various

  • My understanding is that the Nook is basically a loss leader, with the difference made up on book sales. With it rooted that opens it to kindle or whatever else...while its good for the end user (heck im thinking I need one now) B&N is likely going to completely freak out. The likely reaction is a swift essential "update" that blocks the current exploit.

  • "the $250 price tag certainly beats out some of the competition"

    Like what competition?

    I would say if the submitter is slyly winking at Apple here they are slightly insane.

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