Barnes & Noble to provide e-reader app for iPad

iPad app will compete with B&N's Nook e-reader device

Barnes & Noble Inc. will provide a free e-reader application for Apple Inc.'s iPad in time for the tablet's launch on April 3, the bookseller said in a blog post.

The B&N eReader for iPad will follow the company's pattern of making its online e-book store accessible to users of a variety of computing and mobile devices, including PCs, Macs, iPhones and BlackBerries.

The bookseller also indicated that it will soon update versions of its eReader software for many supported devices in order to offer "an enhanced on-the-go reading experience," although it didn't indicate which devices would benefit from the upgrade.

The eReader for iPad application will compete with Barnes & Noble's own Nook e-reader, but the company sees a greater advantage in selling books themselves -- both the printed variety and e-books -- than focusing on sales of a single e-reader. To that point, the blog post notes that the eReader for iPad continues "to fulfill our promise of providing consumers any book, anytime, anywhere."

The bookseller hasn't said how the Nook is selling, but the device's introduction over the December holidays was delayed and many users and reviewers found its navigation slow.

In fact, a comment on the latest Barnes & Noble blog from someone identified as sub_rosa urged the bookseller to fix problems with the Nook instead of focusing on the iPad. Another commenter, jrp, praised the company's decision to support the iPad and revealed plans to buy an iPad even though he or she already owns a Nook; jrp called the ability to use both devices "a huge plus."

The company's support for the iPad is also a confirmation of the Apple tablet's value as multimedia device that includes an e-reader capabilities. Indeed, a recent ChangeWave Research survey of 3,100 U.S. consumers indicates that people would prefer a multimedia iPad over a dedicated e-reader. Of the survey respondents who said they would probably buy an e-reader, 40% said they planned to buy an iPad rather than another e-reader.

Apple began taking orders for the iPad today, although the device won't be available in stores until April 3.

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

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