Barnes and Noble just revealed that it’s upcoming e-reader is the one from Plastic Logic that we’ve long heard about. Which means the Kindle may have a decent competitor on the scene.
After all, Plastic Logic’s e-reader is the most interesting-looking and sounding one yet–it’s design is super-minimalist thanks to its touchscreen, it’s supposedly a very slender device indeed, and it has a whopping 8.5 by 11-inch electronic ink display that rivals the Kindle DX’s. Its built to support the EPub format, also used by Sony, which is how B&N plans on releasing the texts from its e-bookstore.
At this point, B&N’s plan becomes clear–the books will be tied to the B&N e-reader, and not downloadable by Kindle or Sony Reader owners. Essentially B&N is trying to set up a closed ecosystem that’s a direct rival to Amazon’s, and that’s based from its bricks and mortar stores and a website, versus Amazon’s 100% cloud-based solution. Whether B&N’s e-store will incorporate an over-the-air download system, utilizing the in-built 3G chips in the e-reader, like Whispernet isn’t clear yet. And it may be a tricky deal to set up given how much trouble Amazon’s apparently having trying to expand the service overseas.
That doesn’t mean B&N doesn’t have more tricks up its sleeve, however: Its e-bookstore will have over 700,000 titles, more than twice that of Amazon, with best-seller prices at around $10. And the company’s pulled off a deal with Google to enable its users to download Google’s 500,000 public text library for free too. That means B&N ia offering close to one million more texts than Amazon does to its Kindle users. And they’re not just being made available on the Plastic Logic e-reader either–B&N have iPhone, BlackBerry and PC software on the way too.
All of which makes the story very very interesting indeed–Barnes and Noble really is taking the fight to Amazon with its plans. Since Amazon’s credited with stealing much of the custom from bricks and mortar bookstores, it’s practically the only way physical bookstores can react. And the stores may even have one big advantage over Amazon: Picking up and handling the attractive Plastic Logic device in the store could certainly sell more units than ogling pictures of the Kindle on Amazon.