All the major eBook vendors are currently trying to expand their eBook and eReader line-ups as fast as possible in order to compete with Amazon. Today, Barnes & Noble announced that it has partnered with Irex Technologies, a Dutch eReader manufacturer. B&N will sell Irex's new consumer-focused device in its stores and online later this year. B&N already signed a deal with Plastic Logic earlier this year. Irex already offers a number of different eReaders in its store, but this device looks to be specifically designed to take on the Kindle. It will feature an 8.1-inch touchscreen with stylus navigation and a 3G wireless connection.

We featured a longer discussion about Irex's plans in an interview with the company's CEO Hans Brons earlier this year. During this interview, Brons stressed that Irex was focused on the business market but was also planning to expand into the consumer market if the right partners came around. With B&N, Irex now has a major partner to expand in the US market.

In the press release about this partnership, B&N's president William J. Lynch and Irex's North American CEO Kevin Hamilton both stressed that the two companies "share a distinctive, open view of the eReader market."

3G Connectivity

Given that the Irex reader will feature a 3G wireless connection, B&N looks to be in a very good position to compete with the Kindle. While we confirmed with Irex that the new eReader that B&N will use will indeed have 3G wireless connectivity, neither Irex nor B&N were ready to confirm which wireless carrier in the US will power the wireless connectivity.

Currently, the ability to download and sync books wirelessly is one of the Kindle's real advantages over other readers. The mock-ups of the new Irex reader look very good, and B&N currently offers a wider variety of eBooks than Amazon at similar price points. Sony also just announced its new line-up of readers for the holidays and the company is set to announce yet another new product later this week (possibly a reader with wireless connectivity as well).