The SMU Bookstore has become one of 17 Barnes & Noble College Bookseller locations nationwide that will launch the chain’s entry into the burgeoning e-reader market. The new device, called nook™, is priced at $259 and is available for pre-order, with a scheduled shipping date of mid-January 2010.
The SMU location was chosen because it is one of the largest stores in Barnes & Noble’s college network, says Jill Taylor, tradebook manager. “In addition, we are located in a market that they believe will be extremely successful for nook™,” she adds.
E-reader sales are expected to top three million units in 2009, with an estimated 900,000 purchased during the holidays alone, according to Forrester Research Inc. The technology and market research firm predicts sales will double to six million units in 2010. Publications ranging from books to magazines to daily newspapers are available in digital format for the devices.
The Barnes & Noble device offers several features not available in other e-readers, including the ability to loan downloaded books to other users. nook™ owners have free wireless access to all e-books while in any Barnes & Noble store.
In addition, nook™ has the first dual-screen technology available in an e-reader, which will allow customers to browse, purchase and download books using a full-color touch screen.
Readers can use nook™ to highlight passages, bookmark pages and take notes, Taylor says. It can also be synced with an iPod, Blackberry, PC or Mac OS to back up notes and bookmarks. The e-reader has enough internal memory to hold about 1,500 e-books and supports an external memory device capable of holding approximately 17,500 additional titles.
The replaceable back cover is available in several colors. Users can also choose slipcovers designed by Jonathan Adler, Jack Spade, Kate Spade New York, Elie Tahari and others.
While nook™ is primarily designed for pleasure reading, students will be able to download selected textbooks for the reader and use it to read PDF documents, including class notes, Taylor says.
In addition, among the nearly 500,000 free downloadable titles available through BarnesandNoble.com are classics that may be required reading for certain classes. “Students can save money, and they won’t have to wait on shipping or search several stores to find a copy,” she says.
The SMU Bookstore has three demonstration units for customer use, and early feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, Taylor says. “The techies love the Android touch screen, and families of readers love the lending function,” she says. “And it’s a big, big selling point that you can download half a million books for free. There’s no beating that.”
(Above, the nook™ device and its canvas Kate Spade “Bella Library” cover, available separately.)