updated 10:35 pm EDT, Fri October 9, 2009
Barnes & Noble reader may ship Oct. 20
Barnes & Noble's first e-book reader should launch soon and could introduce a watershed feature for any reader, a contacts claim this evening. The bookstore supposedly has a "major event" scheduled for October 20th where it's likely to introduce the e-book reader it promised for the end of the year. The device is likely to be a grayscale reader but to use AT&T 3G for downloading books online.
More important may be a rare lending feature. Barnes & Noble is pressing publishers for usage rights that would let customers temporarily give an e-book they own to a friend. Loans would most likely be limited, however, and publishers are said to be hesitant to allow too many loans in a given year.
Wi-Fi is also deemed probable based on the comments of one unnamed senior official at a publisher, who says the short-range wireless is being used for in-store demos that Barnes & Noble considers essential to the e-reader's success.
Barnes & Noble's launch if fulfilled would give it an edge in the e-book reader market over the Amazon Kindle, which allows multi-device reading but not loans or Wi-Fi. It may also set the stage for future competition between the book retailer and a future Apple e-book store mated to a tablet platform.