back to article Barnes & Noble plans instore NFC Nook-book bonk-buying

B&N's CEO reckons NFC will be the glue to holds the disparate parts of the business together, with the help of Microsoft's money and a following wind. The idea, expounded during an interview with Fortune magazine, is for a Nook equipped with NFC wireless communication tech to be tapped against shelved volumes, said tomes …


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  1. Bakunin

    It's a physical world

    Why do people still insist on limiting their technology by molding it into existing physical limitations?

    The "Bonk to Buy" idea is quite nice. If you're in store it's a handy way to asses if a book is any good and then get it to your reader. But what if I don't have my device with me? if you plan it as your driving business model, I can't see it getting you too far. One of the main benefits of ebooks is I *don't* have to go to the store.

    If you want to define your place in the future of ebooks, why not use your industry weight to provide DRM free books, at a better price than the opposition and with a better cut to the author? The sort of things readers want now.

    On a side note, the Nook is a nice device. But unless you want to be a hardware vendor you're going to need add to that.

    1. Irongut

      Re: It's a physical world

      "why not use your industry weight... at a better price than the opposition"

      B&N can't sell at a better price because Apple won't let them. Yup Apple threw their practically non-existent weight in the book world around and the publishers agreed to screw over all other book sellers.

  2. Lxbr

    Does anyone actually do this?

    Just out of interest, does anyone who is interested in buying ebooks actually go in a bookshop? I think I've been in one once since I got my Kindle (Xmas 2010). I can see people going in a bookshop and checking the barcode on Amazon, then ordering the physical book from them because it's cheaper, but if you mostly buy ebooks, do you spend a lot of time browsing a physical bookshop?

    1. John Gamble

      Re: Does anyone actually do this?

      You've actually got multiple questions there.

      1) Do I buy books even though I own an e-reader? Yes.

      Personally I think the mass market paperback format is dead, but the hardcover format is still alive for me, and when I want a good edition of a book that I like, it's going to be in hardcover.

      (Books that I do buy in e-format tend to be technical books that will become obsolete, or the equivalent of airplane novels.)

      2) So do I buy those books in a bookstore? Yes.

      Someday I'll unleash my rant on an unsuspecting world about the difference between browsing and searching, but for now, yes, a bookstore experience is still superior to the on-line experience, even with the "people who bought 'A Novel' also bought 'B Novel' suggestions.

      Supporting my local bookstore over Amonopolyzon is important.

      3) Does that mean I will always buy a book I see in a bookstore over the e-book format? No.

      See 1) above. Not all books really need (or deserve) to be in physical format.

  3. Hollerith 1

    Interesting but less than useful

    The only bookshops I go to are used bookshops -- the books I am looking for are usually out of print and not available digitally. New books, yes, I buy online, hard copy and e-style. But if i were looking at a very expensive technical book in a shop and had the chance to see whether the e-version was cheaper, then yes, I'd probably buy it standing the ein the shop. If I had Nook, which I don't.

  4. Oor Nonny-Muss

    Another NFC solution...

    ... to a non-problem?

  5. Brangdon

    "Reader will be killed off entirely at the end of August"

    There's no provision for migrating your DRM'd Reader purchases to a format that is supported (so far as I know). They want you to pay for it all again.

    I think this dropping support ought to be a bigger story than it is.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Reader will be killed off entirely at the end of August"

      Unfortunately, those nasty pirates were right from the start, when they used this argument years ago: one day MS will f... you over and stop this lovely, closed format. And guess what the goode olde MS will do about the books you happened to purchase in lit? Well, take your guess.

      a) pretend there's no problem (aka "it only affects a tiny minority of fuckwits who were naive enough to trust us 10 years ago or

      b) provide a free, widely available conversion tool to a new, ueberclosed format.

      but wait a minute, why would they go for b?! After all, courtesy of those horrible pirates (truly awful bunch, worse than pedos, and terrorists combined), there's a lovely, little tool that helps those poor f...wits covert their closed lits into open format (not that they would know a difference). But hey, beware, it's still illegal and you might end up in jail for using it in the UK! And then, if you bought a lit format book 10 years ago, would you be a person to, unbashfully, use a tool called "c-lit" to unlock it?! Truly disgusting! And think of the children!

  6. TeeCee Gold badge


    "Including a "publish" button in every copy of Word might just tip the balance, assuming the competition authorities don't notice."

    Can't be any less competitive than flogging decent readers at heavily-subsidised, loss-leader prices which support a proprietary format and point to your store, tieing their users to you until hell freezes over.

    Can't imagine that anyone would be allowed to get away with that.

    Still, at least Apple's attempt to cartel the major suppliers and price-fix the entire eBook market seems to have come a cropper. One down, one to go.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    enough credit for its technological lead, eh?

    William, if you never ever bothered to flog your ueberdevice on this side of the pond, why the f... do you complain no-one has a clue?!

  8. Mike Flugennock

    One word: paper

    "Microsoft's own e-book format, Microsoft Reader, had that as an optional patch which wasn't enough to save the format - Reader will be killed off entirely at the end of August although no content in .lit format has been available since November..."

    So, am I correct in assuming anyone with e-books in .lit format is going to be screwed fairly soon?

    One word: paper.

    That is all.

  9. Mike Flugennock

    "Publish to Nook" button in Word?

    Technically, it sounds like a nifty idea, but, then... I imagine all those unpublished novelists and poets out there who are unpublished for a good reason, and I think "Publish To Nook" button in Word? aaaauuuuggghhhhhhhhh

    1. Dave Bell

      Re: "Publish to Nook" button in Word?

      The Nook uses the ePub format, which can be produced from a Word file by free software. And past experience of Word outputting HTML files (which are the basis of the ePub format) more than curbs my enthusiasm.

      The example of the Amazon Vanity Slush-Pile doesn't help.

  10. AJames

    On the right track

    I still browse in bookstores even though I read most books on my e-reader these days, so I think Barnes & Noble is on the right track with their efforts to integrate their bookstore chain with their e-readers. Yes, there are many practical difficulties as others pointed out in their comments, but at least B&N are trying. Unfortunately their real weakness is that they have no international presence or strategy outside the USA, unlike all of their competitors. They're a big fish in a medium-size pond.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: On the right track

      "(Barnes & Noble) have no strategy outside the USA, unlike all of their competitors"?

      I would argue that Amazon Kindle doesn't give a damn about addressing the market outside the U.S., and certainly doesn't seem to care about properly localizing its products.

  11. Stevie


    The nook couldabin the killer device that stole the bookshop back from Amazon if it had not been crippled by the (tunnel) vision of lock-in and DRM. The decision would have been between the Kindle Fire DRM-locked to Amazon or the Nook free to use anything but Amazon. I know which I'd have spent dollars on.

    As it is I gave the missus a Nook and she gave me a Fire half a year later. She has the better machine, I have cheaper tat. But we can't share. Well done B&N, Amazon. You dunned us for two copies of Game of Thrones but in the process pretty much guaranteed that I would only spring for Gutenberg from now on. The wife is already mostly reading the Friday Free Books.


  12. A Long Fellow

    Calligraphy with Crayons

    I cringe at the thought of being forced to read something that was 'published' in Word. Given the age of the software and the deep pockets of the company that produces it, you would think that they'd have decent typography worked out by now, but as of the latest version kerning didn't exist, ligatures have to be explicitly enabled, and the fonts installed by MS are usually not as good as the versions which the installer tries to replace by default. Add in the default of a san-serif font (Calibri), Word's grindingly irritating attempts to "help", and Word Art, and you have a recipe for a typographic disaster.

    It might be possible to do a good layout in Word, but the inherent limitations of the software make it an uphill battle.

    1. Epobirs

      Re: Calligraphy with Crayons

      Scarcely any of your complaints have any bearing on e-book work. Your product's appearance is going to be more dependent on the device than on Word and what fonts you have installed. You're going to use the fonts the user of the e-reader has set it to use.

      Plus, an e-book is like a web page: the display parameters can vary widely and the book has to adjust gracefully. You aren't doing typography. More like making strong suggestions as to how the book should look on the most likely display device and try to make it scale to others. I've already had a lot of case where I threw up my hands and said screw the cell phone readers. They're just going to have to pan about a bit to see this page properly.

      For more complex designs, such as a tablet-oriented magazine or 'coffee table book with much greater complexity than a simple paperback of the sort the common e-readers emulate, there are apps like Adobe InDesign. For things like novels, Word is fine for bringing the manuscript up to the stage of creating the EPUB file. I do 90% of the work in Word, load to Atlantis for EPUB output, then final tweaks in Sigil.

  13. David Evans

    Not seeing the benefit.

    I'm one of those people who still browses in bookstores (despite 99% of my book purchases being ebooks), mainly because there happen to be a couple of book stores on my route to work; but despite being (I suppose) and ideal target customer for this idea, I just can't see the benefit, either for myself, or, to be honest, the bookseller. Yes they may get a few incremental sales, but unless this became a default purchasing path for most of their customers (which strikes me as extremely unlikely), it isn't going to save them from the inherent cost inefficiencies of their retail business. It smacks of the typical flawed thinking of bricks and mortar media retailers who refuse to accept they are in the "selling IP" business not the "selling stuff from a building with a counter and a nice coffee shop" business.

    It will also be interesting to see if B&N plan to use their Microsoft relationship to expand internationally (presumably not by doing anything so foolish as opening shops).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not seeing the benefit.

      I love browsing in bookstores, and I also buy e-books. It's not about coffee and a counter, it's about physically flipping through a fascinating, sometimes quirky collection of 40 of the latest fiction and non-fiction books (much more manageable to think about and peruse than larger online quantities) chosen by intelligent, interesting people in the bookshop. Books I probably never would have come across otherwise, because they DON'T have any link to other books I've bought. (I do like the "people who bought this also liked" feature on Amazon, but it has its limitations). I LIKE being exposed to interesting new reading material that a computer would never have linked me to.

      I recognize that brick-and-mortars are facing an uphill battle. Since I really like having them nearby, I try to support them. As someone above said, it depends on the reading material. If it's a book I may want to keep, typically a hardback, or send to a family member, typically a paperback, I might look it up on Amazon and then go buy it in my local, independent bookstore, even if it costs a little more. Many other customers there do the same, because we're trying to keep at least some of the remaining independent bookstores open. This bookstore will also let you order books online through their website and then ship it to you free, but then I'd miss the in-person browsing and instant gratification. If it's a book I know I'll just read once and not pass on, then I'll order it in e-format.

  14. Epobirs

    Ever heard of Atlantis Word Processor?

    Having EPUB output from Word would be great. I currently use Atlantis, a word processor that greatly resembles Word2003, for its save as EPUB function. I'd use Atlantis for everything but it has some huge gaping deficiencies that have gone unmitigated in a decade of broken promises. The big one is a complete lack of support for tables. But then, Kindle doesn't support tables either. This makes a lot of formatting very difficult. In a place where I'd use a table in a layout, I instead have to create a graphic image of a table and insert that.

    This is very undesirable because it doesn't scale. But there is no other choice for Kindle work right now. The newer K* format isn't supported by the installed base and will only be usable on

    niche products for a few more years.

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