BAM! Books-A-Million dropped a bombshell on the eReader world this weekend by offering the NOOKcolor for pre-sale through their online store with the rest of the NOOK line to follow online and in stores November 19. Interesting move considering that Android tablet eReader is from their biggest competitor Barnes and Noble.
In their press release (via The Digital Reader), BAM! cites the need for giving their customers an easy eReading experience as a reason behind the move. True, but giving them an experience tied directly to their biggest competitor doesn’t sound like the smartest move to me. The Digital Reader claims their NOOKs will be tied to the BAM! eBook stores, but Gear Diary has confirmed there will be no difference between the BAM! NOOKs and the B&N NOOKs, i.e., they’re selling B&N eBooks.
I’m sure I’ve stated before how I think the NOOK is a very compelling eReader, but integral to that view is how the NOOK fits in with the Barnes and Noble in-store experience. By offering exclusive access to their in-store digital content via Wi-Fi, the NOOK gives owners a reason to continue visiting their local B&N. Books-A-Million, however, gains no such benefit from selling NOOKs.
While it is possible to read BAM! eBooks on the NOOK, which use Adobe’s Digital Editions DRM, buying and reading those eBooks won’t be as simple and straightforward as the B&N system. There is a risk they will lose eBook customers to B&N. Overall, this seems like a solid win for B&N and an excessively risky move by BAM! to stay in the book selling game.