Barnesandnoble.com Jumps on
by Rose Blessing
While Barnes & Noble.com and Amazon.com are seen as major competitors in the online bookselling arena, they diverge sharply when it comes to selling electronic books.
While Amazon.com sells no electronic books, Barnes & Noble.com has seized several opportunities to sell e-books on line through its Web site, www.bn.com.
--More than 2,300 e-book titles are available for NuvoMedia's Rocket E-book, which uses a proprietary software based on the OEB format.
--In January, the company began posting Glassbook Reader software on its Web site for free download with a collection of free e-books for it. Glassbook Reader software can be run on Pentium-class Windows 2000, 98, 95 and Windows NT computers. Glassbook technology is centered on the Acrobat PDF file format.
--The company has agreed with Microsoft to create and host an ebook superstore, offering titles that will run on Microsoft Reader software. Microsoft expects to ship Microsoft Reader software in the first half of 2000, and the bookstore is expected to be live by the middle of this year. Microsoft Reader software uses a proprietary file format designed to easily convert OEB files provided by publishers.
"Within the next 10 years, there will be an electronic version of virtually every single book in print," says Steve Riggio, vice chairman, Barnes & Noble.com.
Borders is stepping cautiously in: At its Web site, www.borders.com, Borders has posted introductory explanatory information about e-books, and links to the sites of Peanut Press, SoftBook Press and ION Systems (ION Systems offers technology for reading books on the personal computers).
"In addition to providing a customer service, our e-book business boutique will offer us insight into the type of format and service e-book shoppers find most useful and interesting," said Mary Jean Raab, Borders Senior VP of Retail Direct and Convergence.