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B&N: Nook Color sparks sales of periodicals

Barnes & Noble says sales of digital newspapers and magazines are exceeding its expectations thanks to the arrival of the Nook Color.

If you hadn't noticed, Barnes & Noble has a bunch of new brands that go along with its ever expanding Nook brand. On the straight e-book front, there's Nookbooks. Then you have Nookkids for digital content aimed at younger readers. And Nookfriends encompasses the social networking side of the Nook universe.

Barnes & Noble says its digital periodical sales are up big. Barnes & Noble

This week the company has chosen to highlight its Nooknewsstand brand, which includes Nookmagazine and Nooknewspaper, that it began marketing more heavily with the launch of the Nook Color last Fall. In a press release, Barnes & Noble says, "Digital periodical sales are exceeding expectations with more than 650,000 total subscriptions and single copy sales driven by Nook Color customers reading interactive versions of all of their favorite newspapers and magazines, along with books and children's books."

While Barnes & Noble didn't break out subscriptions from single-copy sales, it did say that "among" the best-selling Nooknewsstand magazines were Us Weekly, Cosmopolitan, National Geographic, Reader's Digest, Maxim, Star, O, the Oprah Magazine, Food Network Magazine, Women's Health and Shape. The top newspapers "include" USA Today, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. Currently, around 120 magazines and newspapers are available via Nooknewsstand.

Another data point: Since Christmas Day Nook customers ordered 150% more subscriptions than the total number sold over the entire previous 12 months, the company says. Not surprisingly, Barnes & Noble points out that the strong sales of the Nook Color is at the root of the increase. (Like with Amazon's Kindle, some publications are also available in a monochrome version for e-ink e-readers, but color magazines obviously lend themselves to being displayed on a color screen) .

Media companies, including the New York Times, have been looking to slate devices like the iPad, Nook Color, and other upcoming Android tablets to help spark sales as subscriptions for paper versions of many publications wane. However, some consumers have complained about what they perceive as high prices for digital subscriptions and the inability--in many cases--to get "free" access to digital versions if they're already subscribers to the paper edition.