Barnes & Noble announced that its Nook e-reader will be available through Best Buy stores starting April 18, as the company seeks to hold its share of an increasingly competitive market occupied by both Amazon.com's Kindle e-reader and Apple's newly launched iPad tablet PC. Barnes & Noble is also offering an e-reader application specifically for the iPad, even as the Nook competes with Apple's devices on store shelves. The launch of the iPad has ignited a new round of competitive negotiations over e-book prices between publishers and companies such as Amazon.com.
Barnes & Noble's Nook e-reader will be available through
Best Buy stores starting April 18, as the bookseller finds itself squeezed on
two competitive fronts by Amazon.com's Kindle e-reader and Apple's newly
launched iPad tablet PC. Under the terms of the agreement, a selection of PCs
and smartphones sold through Best Buy will also include the Nook's e-reader
"To date, we've limited Nook distribution to Barnes &
Noble retail and online stores and the customer response to our eBook Reader
has exceeded our expectations," said Kevin Frain,
executive vice president of e-commerce at Barnes & Noble.com. "Through this
partnership, Best Buy customers will now have new and easy ways to access our
expansive digital library on a variety of computing and mobile devices through
BN eReader software and Barnes & Noble eBookstore."
Barnes & Noble is likely looking for a new competitive
angle in light of increasing competition in the e-reader space.
"This partnership provides [Barnes & Noble] with an
additional distribution channel, which is critical to driving sales of the
Nook," Michael Souers, an analyst with Standard & Poor's Equity Research, told Reuters April
Best Buy already offers a competitor, Sony's e-reader.
In February, Barnes & Noble announced that the Nook
would be available in most of its stores nationwide by mid-month, after months
of delays for the devices, which the company attributed to "unprecedented
customer demand." Barnes & Noble has also been working to push through
software updates to its users' devices, after some early reviews-including Walt
Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal and David Pogue of The New York Times-found
that the Nook's bugs distracted from the overall experience. The Nook includes
an iPhone-style touch screen, for navigation and book-purchasing, in addition
to its e-ink display for actual reading.
Originally thought to be a niche product by analysts,
e-readers eventually became one of the must-have items of the 2009 holiday
season. That led to a price war between Barnes & Noble and Amazon, with
both retailers driving down the prices of their competing devices to $259.
During January's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, a number of smaller
manufacturers also debuted e-readers, many with a touch-screen or Web-browsing
element, in a bid to nip off their own share of the market.
But the major game-changer is Apple's iPad, which includes
an e-reader application, and which sold 450,000 units within the first five
days of its April 3 release. Near the end of March, reports
leaked that Amazon was striking deals with a variety of publishers
including Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins, to let them choose the price
of ebooks; that was widely seen as a bid to counter Apple, which was apparently
in intensive discussions of its own with content producers, ranging from
television studios to book publishers, to port specially modified content onto
The iPad's ability to display full color, along with more
complex layouts, makes it a particularly lively competitor to traditional
e-readers' grayscale screens. Amazon has announced an SDK (software development
kit) for the Kindle, and
acquired a company specializing in touch-screen technology
, in a likely bid
to issue a new version of the device more capable of countering its
Both Barnes & Noble and Amazon, however, have also
issued e-reader applications for the iPad. In a March 11 posting on an official
Barnes & Noble blog, Paul Hochman, manager of content and social media at
BarnesandNoble.com, wrote that their version of the application would make more
than one million e-books, magazines and newspapers in the Barnes & Noble
eBookstore available to Apple users.