Barnes & Noble's new reader lets you lend e-books

barnes-noble-nook_l“Never lend books, for no one ever returns them; the only books I have in my library are books that other folk have lent me.” So said Nobel literature laureate Anatole France, and quite rightly. Looking through my own bookshelves, I can count more volumes than I’d like to admit that I’ve passively pilfered, even if I swear to myself that one day I really am going to track down that friend from third grade and give him back his copy of Goosebumps.

Now, the ancient tradition of shelf-sharing has been extended to the e-book. Barnes & Noble revealed their Nook yesterday afternoon, confirming, among other things, the presence of a “lend” function. Users will be able to loan out their e-books to a friend for a period of 14 days, but, as with p-books, they will be unable to access the title during that time. And since the lending period is capped, there’s no worry of your purchase becoming a permanent fixture on your buddy’s coffee table or lost somewhere behind his washing machine.

The feature, as well as a color screen, gives the Nook a bit of a leg up over the equally priced Kindle, and it’s good to see a viable competitor enter the market for what could quite possibly be the future of reading. Now that one more difference between traditional books and their electronic counterparts has been struck down, I think we might see some bibliophiles getting more comfortable with the idea of biblio-files. The New York Times is reporting that people with Kindles are purchasing, on average, over three times as many titles as they were before the switch, so the format clearly isn’t going away anytime soon.

It’s interesting to see e-books working backwards to approximate the experience of real books, trying to find a happy medium. Maybe soon readers will come equipped with must-emitters that periodically spray the combination essence of yellowing paper and attic mildew into your face as you read. One can only hope.

What do you think? Does the lending feature make you want to give in and buy an e-reader, or are you happy to stick with the comfort of the original, paper cuts and all?


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  • SDTim

    I’ll buy a Kindle, or Nook, or whatever when the price comes down! When they’re less than $50, I’m there :-)

  • Ryan

    hehe, must-emitters in version 2 for sure. I personally think the Nook wins hands down. Its use of ePub format makes the books you purchase from B&N compatible with other readers. Where Amazon ebooks are only going to work with the Kindle. Not to mention amazon already deleted previously purchased books from peoples kindles! Nook hands down.

    • Emma

      I like the Kindle because it’s a bit lighter plus you get Wiki and NYTimes for free! Does the Nook have any special features like that?

    • Greg

      The deleting of the books was so overblown. Yeah, it was ironic that the book was 1984 (right?) but they put it right back with notes intact. They were caught between a rock and a hard place and they tried to make both sides happy. Not that big of a deal.

  • ND

    I like the idea of a Nook or Kindle but I love seeing my books on my shelf way too much to ever switch. Maybe I’ll get one for my hubby though. I bet he’d read more if it was electronic. Whatever promotes reading is good right?

  • Flyer

    It’s a cost issue for me as well. When I can afford one, at this point I’d buy the Nook over the Kindle. I have a 14’x14′ library in my house, so no, I won’t be getting away from printed books. But I love the idea of being able to have a bunch of reading material with me, whether I’m on holiday or in queue at the post office, without having to carry all that weight. (It’s the same reason I still keep and add to my CD collection but love my iPod Nano too.)

  • Em

    I want to stick with real books. The feel, the smell, the weight, the softness of the paper, the comfortable light reflection of the paper… I don’t need another reason to stare at a computer screen.

  • taylor

    I have a first generation Kindle I received as a Christmas present. I like being able to buy books instantly anytime/anywhere and have them all loaded into one device I can take with me when I travel. I thought of upgrading to a newer Kindle 2 when they dropped the price but now I am mighty tempted to look into the Nook instead. It seems to have some really nice feautres – like ability to lend and color screen. I need to research it more, but if as a Kindle owner already, I’m contemplating switching- that can’t be good news for Amazon/Kindle.

  • Lisabeth

    I will always love books and own them. I hope they don’t disapperar! But I do love the idea of a an e-reader as well. I have been waiting for Apples new Tablet computer which is rumoured to be an attempt to dominate the publishing world like Apple did with Itunes. We will see!

  • erin stevenson

    I was looking into buying a Kindle just the other day when I saw this. I ended up pre-ordering it because I like its features better than what the Kindle can offer.

  • Kayde_Lyn

    Musty old book is my favorite smell!!!

  • Dreggor Gade

    They really shouldn’t have named it after slang for female genitalia. “Grab your nook and get ready to have fun!” Come to think of it, I really wouldn’t want a nook that sprays out a mist of any kind… That’s just nasty.

    • Anne

      I agree. As soon as I heard Nook users referred to as “Nookies” I immediately know I would NEVER buy one.

    • k

      it was actually named for the true definition of nook — a secluded or sheltered spot.

  • Kate

    I am so on the fence about this. I love the idea since I live somewhere where the bookstores try too hard and don’t even have popular titles and I also have to move a lot and the trash bag full of books is ridiculous, but I love books I love curling up with one under my covers on Saturday mornings just to look up hours later and think dang it, how did it get to be two in the afternoon. I almost wish I could rent one of these things for a weekend just to try it out.

  • melanie

    I’m going with a nook. You can take it to a Barnes and Noble and connect to their free wi-fi to look at FULL versions of the books on sale, even if they aren’t in the store.

  • allyson

    I used to feel the same way about books: the smell, the feel and making sure not to crease the binding. however, i’m a deployed soldier and packing a year’s worth of books is not feasible or practical. so i bought a kindle and spent $300 stocking it with books to last me the entire year. I don’t have a tv and the internet is so slow its practically a joke. So the kindle paid for itself the 3rd wk of the deployment when i finished 4 books in a week. Next to my ipod, BEST. PURCHASE. EVER.

  • Jim

    Can e-library books be downloaded?

    • Michelle

      With the Sony ereader you can borrow a book from the library for 14 days.

  • mlb

    I’m buying a Kindle in the very near future. I love to read, and I never read a book more than once. The library system in my area is small, so many times I have to put books on hold to be able to read them, even older books. Buying an eBook is cheaper than the real thing and I’m saving trees. The Kindle is still the only one the that’s wireless. And I tend to think of the Kindle like the iPod. I’m still giving it some time, but have they come up with any MP3 player than can compare to an iPod?

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