Barnes & Noble First E-Reader Seller to Disclose Plans for NFC Support
In a first for an e-reader seller, the CEO of bookstore chain Barnes & Noble said the company plans to include NFC chips in its Nook e-readers, which he said could make the connection between the devices and the company’s physical stores.
CEO William Lynch told Fortune magazine that with an NFC-enabled e-reader, consumers could tap on physical books in Barnes & Noble stores to get editorial reviews and other information. This could then lead to “some frictionless purchase experience.”
The physical books or in-store displays would be embedded with NFC tags that could store URLs that the NFC chip in the e-readers would read, calling up the additional information about the books on the user’s device over the Internet.
“We can work with the publishers so they would ship a copy of each hardcover with an NFC chip embedded with all the editorial reviews they can get on BN.com,” said Lynch, as part of a question-and-answer interview with the business publication. “And if you had your Nook, you can walk up to any of our pictures, any of our aisles, any of our bestseller lists, and just touch the book, and get information on that physical book on your Nook and have some frictionless purchase experience.”
Lynch mentioned NFC just once during the interview, as an example of how the bookseller could promote “offline-online integration” in its stores. When asked if the e-readers would support NFC this year, Lynch would only say, “maybe.”
As the largest bookstore chain in the United States, Barnes & Noble could be in a position to persuade some book publishers to include NFC tags in their books.
With business for bricks and mortar bookstores struggling, Barnes & Noble is pinning much of its hopes for future growth on its digital business. The main competitors for its Nook e-readers are the Kindle from Amazon and iPad from Apple.
On Monday, Barnes & Noble and Microsoft announced a partnership that would see the software giant invest an initial $300 million in a new Barnes & Noble digital subsidiary and reportedly another $305 million later.
Microsoft said that one of the first benefits of the partnership would be the introduction of a Nook application running on its Windows 8 operating system for tablets and other PCs. That could “extend the reach of Barnes & Noble’s digital bookstore by providing one of the world’s largest digital catalogues of e-books, magazines and newspapers to hundreds of millions of Windows customers in the U.S. and internationally.”
There is no direct relationship between the disclosure by Barnes & Noble’s CEO of the company’s plans for putting NFC chips into its e-readers in the future and the Microsoft partnership announcement. But Microsoft has already revealed that Windows 8 will support NFC.