Bookseller Barnes & Noble partners with AT&T to provide customers in all U.S. stores with free access to Wi-Fi Internet service and its e-bookstore, which boasts 700,000 titles.
Bookseller Barnes & Noble has announced a partnership with mobile
carrier AT&T to provide complimentary Wi-Fi Internet access in B&N's
stores across the United States.
Customers can also use the in-store Wi-Fi to access B&N's collection of
700,000 titles, which it claims is the world's largest e-bookstore.
All customers shopping in B&N stores can now freely download and preview
any of the more than 700,000 e-book titles, with hundreds of thousands of
public domain titles available from Google. The company said its number of
e-book titles is expanding every day and expects to hit the 1 million mark
soon. The existing AT&T Wi-Fi network at B&N has been available to
customers since 2005.
"We are pleased to expand our relationship with Barnes & Noble as we
work together to enhance and deepen customers' overall experience within the
retail stores," said AT&T Business Solutions CEO
Ron Spears. "We currently offer the majority of our AT&T customers
Wi-Fi access throughout our more than 20,000 U.S.
hot spot footprint, including Barnes & Noble, with their qualifying
AT&T services. Now, we're excited to be able to offer every Barnes
& Noble customer the same great Wi-Fi experience at no extra charge
whenever they enter a retail store."
As a part of the Wi-Fi offering announced, B&N said customers will also
soon be able to opt-in to receive personalized messages from the company-such
as a coupon to the in-store caf??Â«, notices on an author book signing or details
on where to find a new book release in their favorite genre-on Wi-Fi-enabled
devices when a customer enters the store.
Customers can also download free Barnes & Noble applications, including
an events calendar, directions to and locations of the nearest store, and an
iPhone application that allows customers to use the iPhone's camera to snap a
photo of a front cover and within seconds promptly retrieve product details,
editorial reviews and customer ratings, as well as find and reserve a copy of
it in the nearest store.
Steve Riggio, CEO of B&N, said this
service is a natural progression of the company's digital strategy to provide
customers with more choices in how, when and where they want to read. "Barnes
& Noble pioneered the concept of retail stores as community centers," said
Riggio. "By providing no-fee Wi-Fi access, we are not only meeting our
customers' needs, but extending the sense of community that has always been in
Just last week the bookseller announced the launch of the e-bookstore. In
addition to 700,000 titles so far, the e-bookstore offers more than a
half-million public domain books from Google, which can be downloaded for free.
First-time users of the eReader will have the opportunity to download free e-books,
including staples such as Merriam-Webster's Pocket Dictionary and
classics of literature.
The company also recently announced a strategic partnership with Plastic
Logic, a spin-off company from Cambridge
University's Cavendish Laboratory.
Their e-reader, seen as a competitor to Amazon's widely publicized (and
criticized) Kindle 2 e-reader, is scheduled to debut in early 2010 after a
limited run for select partners later this year. It will reportedly have a
thickness of less than 7 millimeters, a form factor of 8.5 by 11 inches and a
weight of less than 16 ounces. It will be capable of displaying Microsoft
Office documents and PDF files as well as e-books.
Nathan Eddy is Associate Editor, Midmarket, at eWEEK.com. Before joining eWEEK.com, Nate was a writer with ChannelWeb and he served as an editor at FierceMarkets. He is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.