Finally, Barnes & Noble returns to e-books

After watching Amazon completely remake the digital-book sector with its Kindle e-reader, Barnes & Noble is trying to get back into the game.

Greg Sandoval Former Staff writer
Greg Sandoval covers media and digital entertainment for CNET News. Based in New York, Sandoval is a former reporter for The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. E-mail Greg, or follow him on Twitter at @sandoCNET.
Greg Sandoval

As it has for most of the past decade, Barnes & Noble is playing catchup to Amazon. Barnes, the nation's largest brick-and-mortar bookseller said Monday that it has launched its own digital-book store.

Plastic Logic's prototype e-book reader Plastic Logic Limited

The Barnes & Noble eBookstore will enable customers to read the service's digital books on an array of different platforms, including the iPhone, the iPod Touch and BlackBerry smartphones, the company said in a statement.

In addition, Barnes & Noble will be the exclusive digital-book supplier for the upcoming Plastic Logic eReader, which hopes one day to be a competitor of Amazon's Kindle, by far the nation's most popular e-book reader.

But anyone wishing to buy Barnes & Noble's e-books on Plastic Logic's device has got some waiting to do. The device is not scheduled to go on sale until next year.

Amazon has already completed an upgrade of the Kindle.

Still, Barnes & Noble has finally returned to the e-book game in a big way and there's plenty the chain can do to cross market the books from within its more than 700 brick-and-mortar locations.

Barnes & Noble first got into e-books after they sparked a flurry of excitement in 2000 when best-selling author Stephen King experimented with the format. E-books failed to catch with the public, however, largely because there wasn't an easy or useful way to access them. The Kindle helped to change that.

Barnes & Noble ended it's first attempt at selling digital books in September 2003.