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Barnes & Noble Rumored To Begin Selling Its Own E-Reader

October 9, 2009

A Wall Street Journal report on Thursday stated that bookseller Barnes & Noble Inc would begin selling its own electronic reader to rival Amazon.com Inc’s Kindle.

According to Reuters, the newspaper cited several sources briefed on the matter claiming Barnes & Noble’s wireless touchscreen device could be sold as soon as next month. However, no retail price was disclosed.

Barnes & Noble would neither confirm nor deny the report.

Barnes & Noble spokeswoman Mary Ellen Keating told Reuters the company has made no announcement about an electronic reader, but added the company believes readers should have access to books in their digital library from any device, anywhere and anytime.

The popular bookseller could bite into Amazon’s dominant market share if it uses all the tools in its arsenal, according to Forrester Research Analyst Sarah Rotman Epps.

She said Barnes & Noble is very well positioned to become a serious threat to Amazon.

“Still, even if their e-reader launch is successful, that won’t necessarily save their business,” she added.

Barnes & Noble forecast on Thursday a same-store sales decline of 2 percent to 4 percent for its fiscal 2010, sending shares down nearly 12 percent. Amazon shares closed up 1.3 percent.

In recent weeks, device makers, retailers and even publishers like News Corp and Time Warner Inc have been making moves to cash in on digital books and readers.

Barnes & Noble unveiled an online digital bookstore in July that it touted as the world’s largest, with over 700,000 titles that could be read on devices like Apple Inc’s iPhone.

The book chain said it would be the exclusive provider of digital content on the Plastic Logic e-reader, due in early 2010.

Meanwhile, Amazon announced a $40 dollar price cut on Tuesday for its popular Kindle, now putting the device at $259 in the U.S. — some $100 lower than a year ago.

Amazon is also offering an international version of the Kindle in 100 countries.

Starting this weekend, top consumer electronics chain Best Buy announced on Thursday it would begin carrying Sony Corp e-readers for the first time at its stores. Best Buy will also be showcasing an e-reader by iRex Technologies that links to the Barnes & Noble digital store for the holidays.

Analysts expect e-readers to be a big holiday season seller that might offer traditional booksellers a much needed boost, after a long slump in sales as readers go online or turn to visual entertainment.

Unlike the Kindle, which is only available on Amazon.com — other device makers depend on retail distribution without the built-in user database that Amazon enjoys.

Barnes & Noble received approval from the Federal Communications Commission for its device in September, the Journal reported.

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