First there was the Kindle e-book from Amazon.

Last week Barnes and Noble launched their own version, the Nook.

It’s billed as “The World’s Most Advanced eBook”.

A quick look through the Nook’s website does show some nifty features.

The demo video is well done and worth watching.

There’s a color coded control panel with screen slide browsing (like the iphone), the ability to change text size while you are reading, customizable screen savers, and you can lend ebooks to friends (presumably who also have Nooks).

It looks like an interesting product.

Definitely a few feature improvements on the Kindle.

By the way it’s not yet for sale but you can “pre-book your Nook”.

The product looks cool, but what really interests me is the Brand.

What are the relative strengths of these brand names? Nook vs. Kindle?

I must admit when I first heard the Kindle name I was immediately intrigued.

It seemed to be related to reading but in a way that was no flat footed or literal.

It made me think a bit.

“Kindle like kindling in a fire by which you curl up and read?”

“Kindle like the intellectual and creative sparks that are kindled by books?”

To Amazon’s credit, they don’t force either of these interpretations on you.

I also liked the two syllables, the softness of it.

Nook on the other hand…

Nook is obviously more literal.

Curl up in a Nook with your favorite book.

But Nook as a word feels a bit like a punch in the stomach.

One syllable, linguistically a bit harsh.

It also feels a bit derivative of Kindle.

Like the brief might have been “we need something like Kindle, but punchier.”

I’ve been going back and forth on whether this is a good naming approach or not.

On one hand, in essentially a two horse race are the comparisons inevitable so you might as well tackle the issue head on?

And perhaps benefit from the awareness Kindle has already created in this new category.

On the other hand, if the Nook is really trying to prove that it is “most advanced” should it advance beyond the established naming convention to something different?

Perhaps something more intuitive-techno sounding?

More like the “i-book” it looks like it’s aspiring to be.

In the end of course, the product itself will drive the success.

But assuming there is some parity, does the name matter?

Maybe I over-think this for a living, but I think it does.

That’s my point of view. What’s your twist?
Nook vs. Kindle: which do you think is a better name ?

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Julie is the Founder and CEO of BrandTwist, a brand consultancy that helps entrepreneurs and corporations build stronger, more profitable brands.


  1. It’s interesting that you did not even mention the Sony reader – their original came out in 2006 before any of these. Was it their plain Jane name “reader” or “ebook” that kept them from sucess – or features? Fundamentally same technology.

  2. Personally, Kindle never did much for me and it’s taken these few years for the name to stick in my mind. The word, for me, evokes bundles, trundles, candles, kindling wood, but not a cozy curl-up with a book. Nook, while slightly harder in sound, evokes (for me) that quiet corner to curl up in with a good book. It feels cozy, yet capable (maybe that’s exactly because of the hard “K” sound). The proof, ultimately, is always in the purchase, though, so I’ll share that I’ve already pre-ordered myself a Nook after waffling over the Kindle for over a year. What put me over the top, you ask? I’m not entirely sure, but the ability to lend my ebooks using the Nook was a big selling point for me. And maybe the name, just a tiny bit. :o)

  3. Kindle all the way for me.

    Kindle, as a name, is inspired by and rooted in the benefit derived from reading…it kindles the mind, the imagination. Nook, on the other hand is merely place-based….where you go to read, not the effect it has on you.

    Also, as a matter of principle, I always vote for leaders vs. rip-off artists. Nothing against Barnes & Noble, but they were late and are copy cats. I can resolve the fact that Sony was the actual market innovator, with the belief that while they innovated on the product, they lacked innovation in marketing and that real innovation is when the two go hand in hand.

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