Barnes & Noble is expected to formally launch its own e-book reader Tuesday, featuring a color display and touchscreen and priced the same as Amazon.com's Kindle at $259, according to a Wall Street Journal report.
Details of the device dubbed the "Nook," were based on a full-page ad in the New York Times Book Review section dated Sunday, Oct. 25, which said the e-reader would allow its owners to Lend eBooks to friends.
Barnes & Noble joins an increasingly crowded field of competitors aiming to challenge Amazon's dominance of the nascent e-reader market, where the Kindle is estimated to have a commanding 60% share.
Yesterday, Spring Design introduced Alex, a Google Android-based e-reader offering full Web browsing capability and a dual-screen display, with a 6-inch electronic paper screen for reading along with a secondary color screen for accessing supporting Internet content.
Other devices such as the Que from Plastic Logic Ltd., which will sell titles from Barnes & Noble's e-book store, are due to be released by next year. The key advantage Barnes & Noble has over the rest of the field is its nationwide chain of brick-and-mortar stores, giving consumers a hands-on experience of the reader before making a purchase decision.
While there had been speculation Barnes & Noble might try to undercut the Kindle's price, recently lowered to $259, the matching price tag along with the Nook's color display could also help the bookseller cut into Amazon's huge lead in the e-reader business.
Once the Nook hits store shelves, it will be interesting to see whether Amazon again drops the Kindle's price in a game of one-upsmanship with Barnes & Noble. Could either company's device hit what Apple executives refer to as the "magic price" of $199 for spurring wider sales of handheld gadgets? Much will depend on how well the Nook is received and the competitive threat perceived by Amazon in the lead up to the holiday season.