Will Barnes & Noble's Nook Software Update Keep It Competitive?


The updates keep Barnes & Noble and Nook competitive with rival Amazon's Kindle, but will the Nook's additional, consumer-friendly capabilities help it keep pace with Apple's iPad and other emerging threats to dedicated e-reading devices?

According to Barnes & Noble, Nook will now allow users to preview books in Barnes & Noble stores for as long as a day, for free. The Nook updates also promise faster page turns, stronger Wi-Fi connectivity, and more sensitive touch-screen navigation. The chess and Sudoku applications mark the first new Android apps to run on the Nook's Google Android operating system.

"You can see how these enhancements -- combined with access to more than one million titles, free 3G wireless, an easy-to-read E-Ink screen, exclusive LendMe technology, free shipping and the convenience of being able to try Nook in any Barnes & Noble store -- make it the #1 pick for e-readers," wrote Barnes & Noble on its Nook blog Friday.

Barnes & Noble has also created a new Nook ad campaign that will feature the bookseller's first television ads in nearly 10 years. (The main TV ad for Nook can be viewed here.)

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The Nook updates may be enough to keep Barnes & Noble competitive with Amazon and Kindle, but the features -- the Kindle also has a basic web browser, for instance -- don't seem to differentiate it enough as an overall e-reader threat.

Barnes & Noble in February said that the Nook's launch helped it to a 32 percent increase in online book sales for its most recent quarter, but profits still fell overall.

The next battle for the two e-reader contenders will be an expanded retail push. In early April, Barnes & Noble said that the Nook would be sold through Best Buy, starting April 18. Amazon also confirmed that beginning April 25, it would offer Kindle e-readers through select Target stores.