I asked at the announcement if the Nook would get exclusive perks over other Barnes & Noble readers, like Plastic Logic’s Que. Shelf space ain’t one of them, since Que will cosy up with Nook in B&N stores next year.
Barnes & Noble’s going to display the Que and Nook together with displays pointing customers to the one that’s right for them — Que for dudes in pinstripe suits, Nook for people in jeans. Not only does it mean B&N is basically offering “pro” and “normal” options for an eReader, it shows how they think of the big picture, if it wasn’t already obvious: It’s not about the hardware, it’s about the content.
Barnes & Noble (and Amazon) have apps to read their books on the iPhone and on the PC, with BlackBerry and Android to come. The device you read on is irrelevant — it’s about keeping you in their ecosystem, buying eBooks from them. In fact, the more deftly they’re able keep you hooked in on any device, the better, since dedicated eReaders are dead tech walking. The race is on now to build the most captive audience while the market’s still fresh, like spring dew or baby veal before its braised and delicious. And when Apple jumps into the game, it’s going to get a lot more interesting, not simply because of the powers of the tablet, but because they have years of experience tying people to their store for content.