Though I Wish They’d Named It Something Else

I will begrudgingly admit that I’m intrigued by the Nook, Barnes & Noble’s new device, previewed today, which seeks to be an Unnamed Other E-Reader Killer (follow that link and scroll down; apparently the K-word was banned from today’s announcement). There are three things about it that have me most intrigued:

First, that it’ll be running Android. The open source platform means it’s arguably hackable and developable-for.

Second, that it’ll have some as-yet incompletely understood lending capability. How it sounds like it’ll work is this: I have a book, I share it with some friend who can read it on their Nook for fourteen days, and during that time I don’t have access to the book. After fourteen days, I assume it returns to me — which is more than I can say for a lot of books I’ve lent out.

And finally, and most interestingly, that it’ll apparently provide some kind of interface between the e-book store and the physical bookstore:

Both 3G and Wifi will be free in the store, meaning consumers can do digitally what they’ve alway been able to do: “flip through the entire book, in their favorite book store.”

Bob Stein was thinking about this not too long ago, attempting to imagine the “place for books” as we move further into digital textuality. The ability to browse and buy in the physical store is one of the things I liked best about the future imagined by the French publishing group, Editis, in their video, “Possible ou Probable?”

The Nook doesn’t as yet look as cool as those little leather folios, but it’s a fair step in that direction, I think, recognizing the multiple ways that readers want to interact with books. And its basis in Android suggests that it may be at least a small step in the direction of a device that interacts more flexibly with the internet as a whole.

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