Posted July 21, 2009 9:41 am by with 7 comments

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Plastic LogicBarnes and Noble is no stranger to the eBook business. The first ‘go round’ was shelved six years ago but yesterday the retail bookseller announced it is reentering the market in a big way. As the storefront book business continues to fight for survival in the continuing move to online purchases and other formats Barnes and Noble is looking to make sure it is in the fight. All Things D covers the development:

On Monday afternoon, the bookseller announced what it describes as “the world’s largest eBookstore,” an online storefront that boasts 700,000 titles. That’s substantially more than the 300,000 available for download on Amazon’s Kindle service, though half-a-million of them are public domain books provided by Amazon (AMZN). They’ll be compatible with Apple’s iPhone and iPod Touch, BlackBerry smartphones, and, when it finally arrives at market, the Plastic Logic eReader — a Kindle DX-sized E-book reader for which it will be the exclusive storefront

With the major players in the marketplace being Amazon and Sony the Barnes and Noble offering of E-books will not be compatible with their players. Not a surprise but interesting to say the least. You always wonder if it is more important to own the platform or the renewable purchase market (the E-books themselves). We all know that little story about Microsoft and IBM right?

While I report on this industry I am not E-book friendly at this point. It would take a lot to make me switch from a physical book to the E-book format maybe because I don’t read enough. I can say though that creating a proprietary platform that will limit where or how I could buy my books is not making me interested in getting involved. One thing that people look for is flexibility and when a company tells people that they need to make an either/or vs. a both/and choice I will balk. If I were to make a paradigm shift to a new format I would want the ability to see if one is better than the other. Making your E-book offering restrictive to a particular platform is not attractive but that’s me.

So are you interested in the Barnes and Noble E-book play? If there is a larger library available would you switch to their platform? How many E-book readers do we have out there anyway?

  • Cheryl

    Well this just goes to show that like the traditional music business, the traditional book business just does not get it. Restricting electronic content to a proprietary “only invented here” platform will eventually shrink market share not grow it. The best case scenario would be for book retailers/e-tailers to ENCOURAGE the publishers to allow digital rights for multiple formats and offer those formats. That way everybody wins. This just proves that I was right to not renew my Barnes & Noble membership. Don’t get me wrong — Amazon & Sony aren’t much better since they’re just as restrictive with their formats.

    And Frank — get with the program! You can’t truly report on something you have no experience with. Get an eBook reader (there are tons of them available on the secondary market). It’s not a matter of SWITCHING from paper to digital. It’s a matter of enhancing your existing library (even if it’s small) with a device that is more easily portable than a standard book, newspaper or magazine.

    I seriously doubt that eBook readers will replace paper – especially for art books, etc. But they have the potential to revolutionize the textbook industry (and possibly shrink the backpack business) and revitalize reading especially in a country where reading is not a past-time embraced by most young people.

  • I agree that restricting usage and limiting choice is not the path to popularity in the digital age. Competitive prices, friendly interfaces and overall user experience are rewarded with loyal customers – not greedy marketing from desperate retailers who missed the technology boat.

  • From talking with Plastic Logic (, I believe they are against DRM and want their device to be compatible with as many formats as possible – including ePub, PDF, and even MS Office. B&N choosing their player is an enlightened move that will put them on top of the game when consumers finally get sick of restrictive formats like Kindle which we now know can delete books from your device at will.

    Your statement that B&N’s E-Books are not compatible with Kindle and Sony shouldn’t be viewed as negative. Freedom to choose how you get and how you store your content is, thankfully, incompatible with proprietary hardware lock-in. I look forward to the coming battle.

  • Glad to see more competition in the e-Book market. I’m in the market for an e-reader, looking at the Kindle, but $300 is too much for me.

    I was wondering when B&N would go into e-books, it was only a matter of time.

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  • Although there are risks in marketing E-book, it is great that Barnes and Noble decided to continue their legacy in this field because we are also in need of advancement in books. Although they might experience problems in protecting their E-books, persistence to achieve a different way towards the goal is a lot better. Trying is never a sign of failure nor weakness.

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  • …and Why Stop with e-BOOKS?

    Barnes + Noble can leverage the entire playing field via e-courses as well.

    Offering free e-courses creates huge loyalty/affinity opportunities. Say I sign up for a free e-course via Kindle … that just happens to place recommended reading/professional information sources for readers to purchase?

    Throw in the ability for bloggers to share in the revenue and B+E would never even have to pay for the content.

    Cool developments on the way for Kindle-ers and Online Book Shoppers!

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