Retail distribution may tip e-reader race; Barnes & Noble rolls out Nook

Barnes & Noble unveiled its Nook e-reader, the latest in a line of alleged Kindle killers, and much of the chatter revolves around open standards, touch features, a little color and competition. The reality: Retail distribution may be much more important to winning the e-reader race.

Barnes & Noble unveiled its Nook e-reader, the latest in a line of alleged Kindle killers, and much of the chatter revolves around open standards, touch features, a little color and competition. The reality: Retail distribution may be much more important to winning the e-reader race.

Barnes & Noble's Nook will run $259, have 3G and Wi-Fi access and be open. The Nook also runs on Android and has a color screen (Techmeme). But here are some overlooked elements in the Barnes & Noble statement:

  • The Nook will have "stunning storefront displays" aimed in stores near universities.
  • Barnes & Noble has 40,000 booksellers.
  • Customers will be able to browse e-books for free in stores.

Why does this matter? If e-readers (all resources) are going to hit the masses consumers are going to need to pick the devices up and play with them. That's something you can't do with the Kindle, which has apparently lured Amazon's best customers.

Gallery:

Gallery: E-book e-reader list is growing

Sony, with its distribution deals with Target and other big retailers, is pursuing a similar strategy. The game plan for Barnes & Noble and Sony is to surround Amazon---with bricks and mortar distribution points.

Also: B&N's Nook e-reader: Weirdly unrevolutionary