This bit of news went right by us back in March of this year. However, we can see the results of some hard work right now and can only imagine what is to come.
B&N has been rumored to be preparing its own standalone reader a la Kindle. Instead of waiting until they have the competing device ready, their strategy includes software for existing mobile devices that could give them an immediate market leading position. This is where the purchase of Fictionwise and their eReader software comes in handy…
eBooks have been around for a while. I have been an avid reader of ebooks from way back when I had a Palm and Windows CE device and was using the ebook reader from Palm Press. Well, what was Palm books a while ago, turned into part of Fictionwise one of the largest ebooks retailers around. Back in March, Fictionwise was purchased by Barnes & Noble.
The eReader software was always free and always came with a few books available (classic novels plus a dictionary). Now Fictionwise is porting the eReader software to match the design principles of the B&N brand, plus they are adding some cool features:
- Automatic downloads of your latest Barnes & Noble eBook purchases and samples
- Access to download eBooks from your Online Library anytime
- Bookmarks, note taking & highlight functionality
- Lookup function for dictionary, Wikipedia or Google
- Portrait or landscape display modes
- Customizable font, margins and page gestures
Some of these were only basic features in the original eReader software and are now enhanced on the new eReader versions.
The interesting part of this is that B&N is shooting for all mobile devices to be able to read their ebooks as opposed to Amazon who only seems to be shooting for multiple versions of their Kindle reader.
Fictionwise is still operating and providing ebook software and ebooks for most device OSs such as iPhone, BlackBerry, PalmOS, PocketPC, Windows Mobile, Symbian, Windows PCs, MacOS, and OQO. They are now enjoying a richer selection of content and better priced ebooks. However, the best part of it is that they are now focusing on porting their software and have already released the B&N eReader for the iPhone (and iPod Touch), BlackBerry, Windows PCs and MacOS with the rest of the environments to be supported in the coming weeks.
Even though I am a Windows Mobile user and the eReader for my platform has not been released yet, I am excited about their new strategy. They also have a new B&N’s ebook webpage (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/ebooks/). In their ebook pages you will also find pretty good introduction to ebooks for beginners (click here).
The eReader software look and feel seems to have the same high quality that it has always had. The ability to change the way the font, size, background texture and other settings is a great plus for users that want to get more readable content out of a tiny screen. Users are not bound by small fonts or monochrome settings. This kind of flexibility along with the fact that they do not need to spend hundreds for a reader-device that uses a proprietary format make this a perfect ebook reader platform for those of us who are not willing to get yet another device.
Download it, it’s free and it comes with 2 free ebooks. If you like it, you can start purchasing from the huge ebook collection B&B already has for you.