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Barnes & Noble Launches NookColor: Touchscreen E-Reader

Let the latest chapter of the battle between the e-readers begin: Barnes & Noble today announced the NookColor, a 7-inch, touchscreen full-color e-reader that’s just half an inch thick and weighs under one pound. Should Steve Jobs be worried?

Barnes & Noble Launches NookColor: Touchscreen E-Reader

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Let the latest chapter of the battle between the e-readers begin: Barnes & Noble today announced the NookColor, a 7-inch, touchscreen full-color e-reader that’s just half an inch thick and weighs less than a pound. Developed as part of a collaboration with famed designer Yves Behar, the new $249 Nook offers a full-lamination LG screen with 16 million colors.

The stats are impressive enough–eight hours of continuous reading, eight gigabytes of internal memory, and the capacity to store approximately 6,000 books. There are also more than two million nookBooks available for perusing, and more than 100 periodicals available in both single copy and subscription form, including Elle, US Weekly, and Cosmopolitan. (Full disclosure: Fast Company will be on there too.)

The NookColor is an Android-based device, but the Android marketplace won’t be available for users. Instead the Nook will offer its own reader-centric apps. Barnes & Noble is hoping to snag Android developers with a program called NookDeveloper. It is already working with Lonely Planet, Dictionary.com and Pandora on apps for the device.

In an attempt to woo parents, the Nook offers a “read to me” feature where a professional narrator reads select books to children. The device will feature a series of interactive children’s e-books. (The Nook event attempted to illustrate this feature with interpretive dancers.)

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The new Nook is also a social reading device, according to Barnes & Noble. That means it will have a seamless connection to Facebook, Google, and Twitter, as well as the capability for users to discuss and  borrow books from each other. The Kindle offers a similar book-borrowing capability (users can loan out books to other Kindle-equipped devices for a period of two weeks). Kindle and Nook users can’t share books, unfortunately, because of copy protection issues. We’re hoping that changes soon. The e-book world needs its version of the MP3 before it can truly take off.

Strangely enough, the newest Nook doesn’t have 3G capability — only WiFi. The original black-and-white Nook is available in both Wi-Fi only and Wi-Fi plus 3G versions. Barnes & Noble hasn’t ruled out the possibility of 3G-capable NookColor devices in the future, however.

The Nook will be available at Best Buy and Walmart as well as Barnes & Noble itself, starting on November 19.

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About the author

Ariel Schwartz is a Senior Editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine and more.

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