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5/27/2010
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Barnes & Noble Launches iPad eReader App

Apple iPad users will be able to buy, download and read digital books from B&N's catalog of more than 1 million e-books, newspapers and magazines.

Barnes & Noble has released an electronic-reader application for the iPad, making it possible for users of Apple's slate computer to buy, download and read digital books from B&N's catalog of more than 1 million e-books, newspapers and magazines.

In launching eReader for iPad Thursday, B&N is catching up with rival Amazon, which launched its Kindle app for the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch last month. Amazon and Apple launched their respective e-book reader applications the day the iPad was released.

While the basic functionalities of the applications are the same, B&N differentiates itself from the others by offering what it calls LendMe technology. The feature enables people to let other people borrow e-books for up to 14 days. During that time, the lender cannot access the book.

Other features in eReader, include the ability to choose text and page colors based on pre-designed themes and to move quickly between portrait and landscape views. Other options include the "millions of colors" for text, pages, highlights and links; eight typefaces and five text sizes; and a variety of customizable margins and spacing options, B&N said.

"We believe our customers will appreciate the book-centric touches we’ve incorporated into our iPad app experience -- including some extra large text sizes, ample margins, and line lengths and spacing inspired by classic book design conventions -- along with the opportunity to fully personalize that experience to enjoy reading books whichever ways they like best," Douglas Gottlieb, VP of digital products for B&N, said in a statement.

Like applications from competitors, B&N's software synchronizes the last page read, highlights, notes and bookmarks across devices that have the application. However, feature is only available on the iPad and PC, with the iPhone and iPod Touch scheduled to be added early summer.

Besides software, B&N sells its own e-reader hardware, called the Nook, which competes with the iPad and Amazon Kindle. In addition, B&N plans to sell in its stores this summer Plastic Logic's QUE, which is a larger e-reader than the Nook and targeted at businesspeople and other professionals.

B&N also announced this week a partnership with digital photo-frame maker Pandigital, which plans to launch an e-reader in June. B&N has agreed to embed its e-reader software in Pandigital's Novel, giving users access to B&N's online e-book store.

Primarily a bookseller, B&N is pursuing an e-book strategy that involves have its own hardware, while also partnering to give as many devices as possible access to its online store. Rivals Amazon and Borders are pursuing the same strategy.

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