Barnes & Noble Nook Looks Like a Kindle-Killer

The e-reader arms race is on, and Barnes & Noble is the latest manufacturer to unveil its shiny, super-literate weapon. The Nook might not have the razzle-dazzle of the rumored Apple Tablet, but it's got brand name gravitas, WiFi, a color touchscreen -- enough for the Gizmodo boys to gloat that it "eats the [Amazon] Kindle's lunch." But the Barnes and Noble e-reader has another especially interesting twist: Book lending.


Barnes & Noble's Nook e-reader, expected to be unveiled on Tuesday at a news conference in Manhattan, features Wi-Fi connectivity and the ability for customers to lend out e-books for 14 days at a time.

This is obviously great for consumers (provided they have a e-reader). Maybe Barnes & Noble's calculus is that the ability to share will encourage more people to buy books because it increases the books' utility. For example, I'm somewhat interested in buying sports writer Bill Simmons' The Book of Basketball, but I might be more interested if I knew that I could lend the book to all my friends who read Simmons on ESPN every week so that we could talk about it later. This dream assumes, of course, that e-readers become as common as iPods. We're not there yet, but this explosion of e-readers from Amazon, B&N, Sony and others suggest that somebody smells a market waiting to blow up.

Presented by

Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

A Stop-Motion Tour of New York City

A filmmaker animated hundreds of still photographs to create this Big Apple flip book

Video

The Absurd Psychology of Restaurant Menus

Would people eat healthier if celery was called "cool celery?"

Video

This Japanese Inn Has Been Open For 1,300 Years

It's one of the oldest family businesses in the world.

Video

What Happens Inside a Dying Mind?

Science cannot fully explain near-death experiences.

More in Business

Just In