announcement of its nook e-book reader, Barnes & Noble today announced that it will also sell the Plastic Logic QUE proReader. The QUE will be sold next to the bookseller's own nook on BN.com and in B&N's stores. Earlier this year, B&N and Plastic Logic announced that B&N would power the QUE reader's online store. The proReader is scheduled to premiere on January 7. For the crucial holiday season, this means that B&N will be able to sell its own e-reader only in its stores, though a B&N-powered iRex eReader will soon be available in Best Buy stores as well.Exactly one week after the
Is B&N Partnering With Too Many E-Reader Manufacturers?
In September, after the successful launch of the B&N e-book store, we couldn't help but wonder if B&N's e-book brand was hurt by the fact that it didn't offer any compatible readers yet. Now it looks like B&N is going in the opposite direction: the company will offer so many compatible readers that consumers might actually be confused by this large selection. Amazon, which offers two very similar readers under the Kindle brand, doesn't have this problem.
In a perfect world, every e-reader would be able to read every e-book from every store. You could buy a book in the Amazon Kindle store and read it on your B&N nook. Real books don't have any restrictions, after all. Many new users will assume that e-book readers work just like regular books or like MP3 players and music stores, which have now mostly given up on DRM. With the new influx of devices, B&N and its partners will have to make sure that they educate new users about compatibility issues between different devices and stores.
Why B&N Needs Its Partners
It will be interesting to see how these other devices sell next to B&N's own nook. The nook is closely linked to the B&N brand, while Plastic Logic and iRex aren't household name for most consumers. This is why B&N had to launch its own e-reader and partner with other companies. In order to beat Amazon, B&N couldn't just copy Amazon's device strategy with the nook. The company also had to go beyond this and offer partnerships to other device manufacturers to hedge its bets and to open up its store to a larger audience.