The e-book battle heats up as e-readers take sides

Irex Technologies announces that its upcoming consumer e-reader will boast Barnes & Noble e-books. It's becoming an arms race in the e-book market.

Don Reisinger
Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
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Another Amazon Kindle competitor has unveiled its plans for the future. And like Plastic Logic's e-reader, the device will feature Barnes & Noble's e-book store.

Kindle DX
The Kindle has even more competitors. Amazon

When Irex Technologies unveils its consumer e-reader later this year, it will include Barnes & Noble's e-books, Irex said in a statement Monday.

Barnes & Noble's store currently features more than 750,000 titles, and it expects that library of available titles to increase to more than one million within the next year. The full library will be available for download on Irex's e-reader.

That news followed a report earlier this month that Irex's new e-reader will sport an 8.1-inch touch screen and 3G wireless connectivity. The device's touch screen will be controlled with a stylus instead of a user's fingers.

"With our comprehensive e-bookstore and feature-rich e-reader application, Barnes & Noble is delivering not just a product, but a promise: to provide people with access to the books they love--on any platform, in any place, and at any time," Barnes & Noble President William J. Lynch said in a statement.

Barnes & Noble's strategy focuses on maintaining its store and partnering with hardware makers. Aside from availability on the Irex e-reader, as well as the iPhone and iPod Touch through Apple's App Store, Barnes & Noble's store will also come bundled in Plastic Logic's upcoming e-reader.

Amazon offers its own e-reader software in Apple's App Store, allowing both iPhone and iPod Touch users to read its e-books on their handsets. And of course, Amazon's e-books can also be found on the company's market-leading Kindle.

The success of the Barnes & Noble e-book library will largely depend on whether or not the devices using its store will boast the same level of usability as the Kindle. If they do, it's possible that Barnes & Noble will be able to capture significant market share, thanks to its availability on so many e-readers. If they don't, Barnes & Noble's store might lose its stride. And all that fails to consider Sony's Reader--another contender that could emerge as a major player as the market matures.

Suddenly, the e-book market is becoming an exciting space to keep an eye on.

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