But how can an eReader work cooperatively with a bookstore, whose profits you’d expect it to directly undermine? Simple, Gottlieb says: The Nook interacts with the store by connecting to Barnes & Noble’s WiFi hotspots, giving users free range of AT&T’s 3G network for downloading and purchasing books. Gottlieb says being in Barnes & Noble will enhance the “Nook experience” because users will get exclusive content, special discounts and will be able download and read entire eBooks for free in the store. The booksellers’ employees will also be fully trained in the use and features of this new device, so Nook users and curious customers have the same in-store resources as before.
More importantly, Gottlieb thinks the Nook will help Barnes & Noble keep up with the changing times and attain a whole new readership. “We have a variety of books to suite a variety of readers’ tastes—why not have options and variety with reading devices?” he chuckles. “Some people may prefer an eReader to traditional books and we want to provide a sophisticated device for that crowd.”
Moreover, Forrester analyst Sarah Rotman Epps thinks Barnes & Noble is on the right track for succeeding in the eReader market while still “holding their own” as a bookstore. She predicts “higher-than-expected eReader sales” in the 2009 holiday season and the beginning months of 2010. Epps believes Barnes & Noble’s Nook will do well against eReader competitor Amazon, manufacturer of the Kindle 2 and Kindle DX, due to the former booksellers’ “customer relationships, in-store real estate and publisher goodwill.”
Along with Epps, many tech experts are also saying that the last few months of 2009 will offer a clearer picture of overall consumer opinion towards the eReader market. While the category’s reach still remains uncertain, however, both big-name publishers and independent presses seem confident in the loyalty of their readership and their own ability to adapt. Moreover, these publishers and booksellers made clear that as long as there are writers and readers that there will always be “books”—and that, as electronic options continue to grow and expand, they’re starting to like the overall ambiguity of the term in general.