By Brian Howard and James Sturdivant

I own a Nook Simple Touch. Maybe it’s because I root for underdogs or maybe it’s because I chafe at platform lock-in and proprietary file formats, but I’ve been quite happy with life on the B&N ebook platform.

Then, on Friday, Amazon announced its Stephen King Kindle Single exclusive, “Guns.” In the short essay, King, whose book Rage had been linked to several instances of school violence, weighs in on the gun control issue. (King penned Rage as a high schooler. The book was published under his Richard Bachman pseudonym and has since been taken out of print  at the author’s request.)

I forked over the 99 cents, downloaded the Kindle app for my iPad and read it on Saturday as I was homebrewing a batch of beer. It was, to be honest, my first real time spent in the Kindle ecosystem and, well, it was enjoyable. I liked that I could see what the most highlighted passages were. I appreciated that I could share quotes on Facebook (and not just links to the book as you can sometimes do with the Nook interface). While I sometimes think that Amazon.com’s UX is lacking, it’s clearly something it pays attention to in the Kindle.

Make no mistake, I still like my Nook a lot, and will likely champion it past the point that it’s reasonable to do so. But in light of today’s news about B&N, and my weekend with “Guns,” it’s ever clearer just how stiff the competition is.

Brian Howard

Gosh Darn if That Doesn’t Make Sense

Figuring out what to do with user comments has long been a bugaboo for online publishers. People just love to scroll through all that fervent sharing looking for kindred spirits, weak arguments or conspiracist crazies—surely there must be a way to make some money off it!

Well, the Huffington Post and parent company AOL may have just figured it out. A new “conversations” feature, written about today at paidContent.org, identifies and breaks out specific conversations from within the thousands of comments HuffPo articles generate, allowing visitors to read (and add to) conversation threads on a separate Web page. Huffington Post CTO John Pavley told Paid Content that ads from AOL will be served alongside these conversations, allowing for targeting of highly-engaged readers.

Think about it: people on all sides of the Manti Te’o debate can have their unique predilections catered to! OK, maybe not the best example. But you get the point.

James Sturdivant 

* This post originally appeared on the website of Book Business magazine, a TeleRead sister publication.