Barnes & Noble publicly announces Nook e-reader

Barnes & Noble publicly announced its electronic-book reader, setting the stage for its $259 e-reader to compete with the Amazon Kindle during the 2009 holiday shopping season.

The B&N Nook has a color navigation panel, Wi-Fi, 2GB onboard storage with expansion slot for up to 16GB, and can play MP3s and PDFs.  In addition, the e-reader uses the Google Android operating system and is supported by the AT&T 3G wireless network.

Using the B&N reader software, Nook owners can share books to other Nook owners, Apple iPhone or iPod Touch owners, smartphones, and PC users.

The device is a bit bulkier than the Kindle, has lower battery life than the Kindle, and doesn't have the text-to-speech feature.

"We asked our customers what they wanted in an eBook reader, and specifically designed Nook to be the most full-featured, fun, stylish and easy-to-use eBook reader on the market," B& President William Lynch said in a statement.  "With our nationwide footprint, Barnes & Noble customers can see, touch and hold Nook."

Even though the Kindle leads the e-reader industry, the Nook may have a drastic advantage now that it can be shown in thousands of B&N bookstores across the United States.  The Kindle can be purchased exclusively through Amazon, and has been difficult to find elsewhere.

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