By Mae Anderson, AP Retail Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — Barnes & Noble Inc. unveiled a new electronic-book reader Tuesday that will compete with Amazon.com's Kindle in a still-small arena where some see bookselling's future.
Closer to a printed book than its precursors in some respects, the "nook" allows users to lend their copies of electronic books to any friend who has installed Barnes & Noble's e-reader application on a mobile device or personal computer.
But the wireless nook, which runs on Google Inc.'s Android platform and comes with 2 gigabytes of memory built in, also can store and play MP3 audio files and photos.
The reader is available on Barnes & Noble's Web site for $259 — same as the recently reduced Kindle — and is to start shipping in November.
Author Malcolm Gladwell read from his best-seller "The Tipping Point" during a launch event Tuesday for the device in New York. The first 10,000 people to order a nook will get a free electronic copy of Gladwell's book.
The device comes with free wireless access in Barnes & Noble stores, where it will be displayed for sale.
Other features include a slot for adding up to 16 gigabytes more memory and a 3.5-inch color touch screen below the page display. Less than 5 inches wide and 8 inches tall and weighing 11.2 ounces, the nook is the size and weight of a paperback book, Barnes & Noble says.
Some e-book readers, including the Kindle, display only versions of books provided by the company that sells the device. But the nook, like Sony Corp.'s e-readers, can display texts in PDF and epub formats, meaning users aren't limited to buying books from Barnes & Noble directly. Epub is an open standard supported by the International Digital Publishing Forum that numerous publishers use to make e-books.