Barnes & Noble bets big on the nook

Barnes & Noble’s Douglas Gottliebwith Barnes & Noble's Douglas Gottlieb

Barnes & Noble, with its new nook, is the latest and biggest entrant in the nascent but burgeoning ereader space. And so far things seem to be moving along; the company said it had a large number of pre-orders (though it did not disclose specific figures) and that it will fulfill the pre-orders on a first-come, first-served basis. However, the company said it won't be able to stock the nook in its retail stores until after the holidays (demo units began arriving in stores yesterday). (For more on ereaders and the embedded device ecosystem, check out FierceWireless' new ebook: "Beyond the Cell Phone: Creating the Next Frontier in Wireless.")

Nevertheless, Barnes & Noble plans on being a formidable competitor to Amazon's popular Kindle ereader, and Barnes & Noble hopes its innovative approach will appeal to consumers. FierceWireless contributor Peggy Albright talked with Douglas Gottlieb, Barnes & Noble's vice president of digital products, about the nook and the company's wireless strategy.

FierceWireless: Why are you introducing your own device and why now?

Gottlieb: We really looked very long and hard at the existing ebook device marketplace and asked ourselves if we should develop our own device--and if the answer is yes, then why. We felt there was an opportunity to super-serve the Barnes & Noble customer. Our customer is somebody who is passionate about reading, and we saw an opportunity to create an ebook reader that would be focused on that reading experience. It would be a device that would be friendly and easy to use by all members of the family.

barns and nobel nookFierceWireless: You're partnering with AT&T Mobility for wireless services, and offering both 3G and WiFi on the device. Why did you pick AT&T as your operator partner?

Gottlieb: We have a relationship with AT&T for complementary in-store WiFi for Barnes & Noble customers. We're closing in on 5 million sessions since July. That's a big success. So it was a natural evolution of that relationship to partner with them for 3G connectivity for nook.

You can certainly shop directly from the nook and download and buy ebooks from any place, anytime. But bringing your nook into a Barnes & Noble store really enhances the experience significantly.

FierceWireless: Any plans to get into CDMA?

Gottlieb: We are partnered with AT&T and will be working closely with AT&T.

FierceWireless: You said there have been 5 million in-store WiFi sessions since July. What are you observing from that?

Gottlieb: We're extremely pleased with that number. It speaks to the approach we have with the brand, and that is the welcoming, come in, sit down, relax in a comfortable chair and browse and read a book. This is an illustration of that philosophy.

When you bring the nook into the store, it's preconfigured to seamlessly and automatically connect to the in-store WiFi network. You'll be able to browse entire ebooks with your nook. You'll also have exclusive, free downloadable in-store content. We're working with all the publishers, getting some very exciting content for the device that will only be available while in the store...Continued.

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