New Nook for Android e-reader tool supports Android 1.6 and higher

Barnes & Noble continues push to offer e-reader software for additional devices

Barnes & Noble Thursday launched Nook for Android, a version of its free e-reading app for devices running Android 1.6 or higher, which include smartphones such as the Droid X.

The company's B&N eReader software has become available for in increasing number of devices, including Barnes & Noble's own Nook e-reader and Apple's i Pad, which follows a trend among competitors such as Amazon.com.

The new Nook for Android software can be downloaded today at a Barnes and Noble site.

The bookseller also announced said it will be branding all of its B&N eReader software with the name "Nook" -- such as Nook for iPhone and Nook for iPad-- in the coming months. The platform offers access to an e-bookstore with 1 million titles.

Barnes & Noble has attempted to show it is distinct by offering limited lending of e-books purchased from its e-bookstore. That feature applies to the new Android app as well, the company said.

Later this summer, Barnes & Noble plans to offer users the ability to use a search library, to highlight and to make notes with Nook for Android.

Separately, Barnes & Noble today said the New York Times is now available via the iPad-based e-reader software. Access to the online newspaper starts with a 14-day free trial.

Barnes & Noble, Borders and Amazon.com -- among others -- are all facing pressure as they seek to better compete with Apple's popular iPad, a full-color multimedia e-reader that offers access to a digital bookstore.

Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com have recently dropped prices on devices. The price of Amazon.com's Kindle device, for example, was cut from $259 to $189, which tripled the device's growth rate, Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos said earlier this week.

The more striking news from Amazon, analysts agreed, was that it has sold more e-books in the last three months than hardcover books, by a ratio of 143 to 100. Booksellers generally acknowledge that overall, e-books account for only about 5% of all book sales, but are projecting fairly dramatic growth in e-book sales over the next five years.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen, or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed . His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

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