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Barnes & Noble Unveils Digital Lending

While most folks have fixated on the Nook’s ($259) secondary color screen, compared to the pedestrian and now antiquated Amazon Kindle, the most significant feature of Barnes & Noble’s upcoming Android-based eReader is digital lending. From the Nook FAQ:

With our new LendMe technology, you can now share from nook to nook. But it doesn’t stop there. Starting Nov. 30th, you can lend to and from any device with the Barnes & Noble eReader app, including PC, Mac OS, BlackBerry, iPhone™ and iPod touch. All you need to know is your friend’s email address. You can lend many of your eBooks one time for a maximum of 14 days. When you use our LendMe™ technology, you will not be able to read your eBook while it is on loan, but you always get it back.

We’ve previously seen some minor forays into digital media sharing (Welcome to the Social, MusicGremlin) and I had proposed a single license transfer model. Yet this appears to be the most consumer friendly and practical implementation. When combined with in-store wireless book browsing, the Nook experience (on sale 11/30) appears to closely mirror how we interact with physical media. However, B&N’s ambiguous language (”many” “up to” “a maximum of“) has me wondering what sort of lending policy variation we’ll see on a per title basis. And, if B&N is able to license content sharing from the publishers, you know Amazon will most likely implement similar functionality in the near future (along with another price drop?). But they better move quick before I pick up a pair of Nooks.

After the jump, some gratuitous product shots.

(This post republished from Zatz Not Funny.)

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Hey, Nook! Barnes & Noble’s E-Book Reader is Official

Nook LogoThe salient details had all leaked out already, but now they’re real: Barnes & Noble has unveiled its e-book reader. It’s called the Nook, it packs both a 6″ e-ink screen and a color touch one below, and comes both 3G and WiFi, 2GB of memory, and an SD slot. The Nook will offer both bestsellers and other new releases (“many” at $9.99) and over a million titles in total, including free public-domain works. It costs $259–the same as Amazon.com’s cheapest Kindle–and is due to ship by the end of November.

Oh, and it syncs with Barnes & Noble’s e-reading software for PCs, Macs, iPhones, and BlackBerries, and has a lending feature that lets you virtually loan an e-book to a friend for two weeks. Let’s op

As with Spring Design’s Alex, the Nook’s two-screen design feels like a kludge to deal with the deficiencies that both e-ink and color LCDs still have. (The color display has an impact on the Nook’s battery life: ten days on a charge, vs. fourteen for the Kindle.) But maybe it’s an elegant kludge–I look forward to getting my hands on a Nook soon.

The single thing about the Nook that I’m most excited about is something kind of mundane: Like Sony’s Readers–but unlike the Kindle–it supports the industry-standard ePub format, and therefore doesn’t render your book purchases worthless if you someday decide to switch to an electronic reader made by someone else. I’m a mostly happy Kindle owner, but the current explosion of interesting alternatives from other companies leaves me hesitating each time I’m about to plunk down money for an e-book. I wonder how long it’ll take until Amazon decides that its proprietary book format is a drag on sales?

(Footnote: I’m still not clear whether the fact that the Nook and Sony Reader both support ePub means that I can just move my books back and forth starting right now. But that’s the direction the whole industry needs to go, and it can’t happen soon enough.)