updated 01:30 pm EDT, Tue July 28, 2009
Wi-Fi at Barnes & Noble
Barnes & Noble on Tuesday announced it has teamed up with AT&T for free-to-access Wi-Fi hotspots at its stores across the US. This will give customers access to the Internet as a whole but is naturally intended as an incentive to use the company's e-book store. Those who sign up will also have the option of receiving messages from the book store chain, including coupons to the cafés, recommended or best-seller lists, author signings, and other events.
The apps, available for the iPhone and iPod touch, BlackBerry handsets as well as PCs or Macs, were launched last week. The iPhone version offers the most functions, including using the iPhone's camera to capture the front cover of a book and the software finding related information, editorial reviews and customer ratings, as well as giving them the option of reserving a copy in a nearby retail store. Each app includes a few free e-books and also takes advantage of GPS to find the closest store.
The bookstore chain is getting serious about its e-book strategy, as it recently bought e-book retailer Fictionwise that makes an application for the iPhone, while also partnering with Plastic Logic, the maker of an e-book reader that should use both AT&T 3G and Wi-Fi when it arrives next year.