The rumors went viral yesterday concerning an alleged plan by Barnes & Noble to launch its own competitor to Amazon’s Kindle 2 eReader.
The breakout success of Amazon’s Kindle has undoubtedly sparked interest at Barnes & Noble. The ailing book dealer saw a 5.4 percent decrease in store sales in 2008 compared to 2007.
“Reports are that Barnes & Noble is working with Sprint to develop the product. Of course, AT&T may be in on the negotiations as well. Verizon is out,” said telecom analyst Jeff Kagan.
In an interview with Wireless Week last month, Tony Lewis, head of Verizon’s open development initiative, was enthusiastic about certifying a number of eReader devices on the Verizon network.
At CTIA, however, Lewis told The Associated Press that Verizon was looking to enter the market by focusing more on areas that Amazon’s Kindle has ignored. He cited text books as one such area.
It’s unclear which device maker Barnes & Noble would tap to lead its foray into the electronic book market. Kagan suggests Sony’s reader as a possibility.
It would be an interesting development if Barnes & Noble were to pen a deal with Sprint, which is the network behind the Kindle Store as well.
Regardless of who’s doing what, the eReader appears to be here to stay. Although Amazon won’t release sales numbers on the devices, initial orders for the Kindle 2 reportedly had to be back ordered.
“This is a new category in the wireless industry that shows great potential. These devices not only read books, but can also read your morning paper by having it automatically downloaded to your device every day,” Kagan said.
In much the way the Apple App Store has set the bar for mobile application stores, the Kindle Store appears to be the current yardstick for digital bookstores. As of fourth-quarter 2008 earnings, Amazon reported that the Kindle Store had a catalog of 230,000 titles and daily editions of newspapers from eight of the top 10 metro areas.