Watching, Waiting For Barnes & Noble's Kindle Killer: The Nook

Some details of Barnes & Noble's new e-reading device, the Nook, were leaked to press in advance of Barnes & Noble's planned unveiling Tuesday. Along with photos purported to be of the e-reader, which surfaced on a number of tech blogs last week, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal both reported Tuesday that the device will be called Nook and sell for $259 -- the same price as Amazon's Kindle.

The Times' source is an ad for the Nook, scheduled to run in its "Book Review" this coming Sunday.

Barnes & Noble had yet to confirm the Nook's specs and pricing by midday on Tuesday but did have an event planned for Tuesday afternoon.

Requests for comment by were not immediately returned.

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Earlier reports suggested the device Barnes & Noble planned to unveil was the same as Plastic Logic's forthcoming e-reader. Plastic Logic confirmed yesterday that its device, the Que, is something different, though it will use Barnes & Noble's eBookstore for content.

Similarly, another device, the Alex, from Spring Design, was also at one point rumored to be the same thing as the expected Barnes & Noble device. Spring Design's own Monday announcement for the Alex put that rumor to rest as well.

Technical details on Nook are so far scant, although photos posted on Gizmodo and other blogs show a tablet-looking device with a QWERTY keyboard that does bear some resemblance to the Amazon Kindle. Another rumor also holds that Google Android will be the operating system of choice for the Barnes & Noble reader.

Barnes & Noble's road to e-reading relevance has been long and winding. After striking out with a Microsoft-partnered digital books service back in 2003, the company finally returned to e-books in March, acquiring e-book sales platform for $15.7 million. That move, seemingly small at the time -- especially since it happened the week Amazon launched Kindle apps for the iPhone and iPod touch -- was in fact portentous.

In July, Barnes & Noble took another big step with the launch of the eBookstore -- matching Kindle pricing for $9.99 for new releases -- and also confirmed it would provide access to the eBookstore for e-readers by Plastic Logic (the newly confirmed Que reader) and iRex.

The Nook now gives the retailer -- which has seen e-tailing giants like Amazon eat into its traditional book-retailing base for years -- a device of its own, and from the looks of it, one that can challenge the Kindle on all levels.

The Nook will need all the firepower it can muster; according to Forrester Research, Amazon will close out calendar 2009 with a 65 percent market share in e-reading devices in the United States, with Sony a distant second place at 35 percent.

Amazon itself is trying to advance the Kindle's lead with a new, global-edition Kindle, but with new market competition popping up all the time, might see that e-reading advantage begin to slip away in 2010.

For more on the e-reading landscape, check out our comparison of Amazon Kindle with rival e-readers from Sony and Plastic Logic.