NFC chips coming to Nook devices, says Barnes & Noble CEO

NFC chips coming to Nook devices, says Barnes & Noble CEO

Summary: Future Nook products will be joined by near-field communication chips, allowing Barnes & Noble to further leverage its store locations against Amazon.


With few exceptions, retailers haven't quite managed to bridge the gap between their online stores and brick and mortar locations. Barnes & Noble, however, might be onto something, and the answer lies in near-field communication (NFC).

In an interview with Fortune magazine, Barnes & Noble CEO William Lynch revealed that his company will soon embed NFC chips into its Nook devices.

"We can work with the publishers so they would ship a copy of each hardcover with an NFC chip embedded with all the editorial reviews they can get on," Lynch said, noting that the experience could lead up to what he calls a "frictionless purchase experience" just by touching an in-store book to a Nook eReader.

The idea is exciting, and the exact sort of thing that Amazon, with its lack of physical locations, can't possibly keep up with. In short, it's all about B&N leveraging its most significant assets.

Lynch wouldn't commit to answering whether the feature would arrive this year, though it seems somewhat likely that Barnes & Noble would introduce it with the next iteration of the Nook tablet.

The B&N CEO is surprisingly candid elsewhere in the interview, which he closes with the argument that the media and analysts haven't given B&N quite enough credit for what its done in the technology sphere. "What we want is the recognition from investors and others to say these guys have built something special here," he said. That may just be true, but if his company's NFC experiment bears fruit, it's certain that he will eliminate all doubt.

Topic: CXO

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  • Fantastic

    This is what Amazon can't have and might keep B&N solvent IF they can keep the stores open long enough for the technology to take hold.
  • Isn't every book store an Amazon book store?

    I'm a big fan of NFC - but I'm not sure this is one of the killer applications. And I don't think it will cause Amazon a headache. Because there's an easy alternative that doesn't involve getting publishers to stick contactless chips in their book covers and builds on the growing trend for mobile price comparison shopping with scanners on smartphones. I walk into a Barnes and Noble book store; I don't carry my ebook reader around with me - but I do carry my phone. I use it to scan the bar code of the book I want to read, I land on the Amazon listing for that book and with 1 click I get the book on my kindle or iPad (which is at home - plus all the other linked devices if I'm using iCloud). I imagine that B+N would need to build in some sort of loyalty + reward factor (based on taps per quarter or something) for it to impact Amazon.
  • Don't Judge a Book by Its Cover?

    I like NFC and have been using it since 2005. In Japan, there are quite a few Edy and Suica (Edy is prepaid card, Suica is charge card) devices already in the wild. Vending machines, McDonald's, convenience stores have used NFC for 7 years. I had an NTT DoCoMo phone with both built in. I couldn't understand why it wasn't here the U.S. One of the technologies I miss when I returned to the U.S.

    But, this is a lame application to get publishers to put NFC chips and antennas into their books. They already have barcodes, like @VictoriaJane says. Apple Stores already let you buy some products with your iPhone with a free app. This is something that can be done today. If they made a similar app for iOS and Android, and not just for books but for everything in the store and build it today, this would be the fastest cheapest way to accomplish what they want. In other words, they are over engineering something, not looking at what's right in front of their face.