Blog Post

Barnes & Noble Tries To Stake E-Reader Claim With Wi-Fi, 3G And A Dash Of Color; On Sale Nov. 30

Updated: My local Barnes & Noble store says “The Nook” — the new e-reader being unveiled in New York today — won’t hit stores until November. So far, no display either. For now, that leaves B&N pitching its retail-centric device the same way as rival Amazon: online. The pitch includes a side-be-side chart comparing the new Android-based Nook with the Kindle 2, more detail about that color screen (don’t think magazine, think thumbnail), and some bragging about how Nook relies on AT&T (NYSE: T) (not Sprint). We’ll have more but you can check it out in the slideshow and the video embedded below.

Update: The official word — the Nook hits the shelves Nov. 30; pre-sales started on today and in stores tomorrow, but no “test drives” before the sale date. That should give content partner IREX Technologies, due in Best Buy within weeks a head start in physical retail sales for the upcoming 8-inch touchscreen iRex but by jumping out of the gate now, B&N may have put a hold on some of those non-Kindle e-reader dollars Forrester predicts will be spent over the holidays. On the plus side for iRex — with Verizon (NYSE: VZ) as its 3G partner, it may have an in with the anti-AT&T crowd. It also has a larger screen and an open environment. On the down side, it’s not as stylish as the Nook. IREX North American CEO Kevin Hamilton told me he knew about B&N’s device plans but I’m not sure he realized just how much competition it might be.

Fine print: The announcement e-mailed to B&N members late this afternoon — those are people (like me) who pay $25 a year in exchange for discounts and special offers — promised free “expedited shipping” as a benefit with pre-orders. It also offers an e-book of Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point (list price $14.99, BN price $9.99); checking the fine print, that’s limited to the first 10,000 Nook buyers whether or not they’re members. . Maybe that’s supposed to make up for the other fine print: the 10 percent “everyday” discount isn’t good for digital content — or for “certain digital devices.” (Gladwell’s What The Dog Saw is currently the e-book of the week.) Meanwhile, there’s no visible marketing yet on either the chain’s Bookstore or the eReader iPhone apps.

Lending library: When I spoke with Kevin Hamilton over the weekend, I asked if the iRex would allow lending. Currently, Kindle allows e-book sharing between five devices on the same account, including the iPhone; magazines and newspapers can only be moved between Kindles. No, said Hamilton. DRM is a problem and he didn’t see the publishers signing on. But B&N is doing just that with some limits: using LendMe, some e-books can be swapped between any device using the B&N eReader software using only an e-mail address. Here’s how it’s explained in the Nook FAQ: “You can lend many of your eBooks one time for a maximum of 14 days. When you use our LendMe