NEW YORK--As nearly everyone already knows, Barnes & Noble is officially entering the e-reader business on Tuesday with the launch of the Nook, a $259 device with an e-ink display as well as a secondary color touch screen.
I'm on hand at the Chelsea Piers event to provide live coverage and share whatever surprises might be remaining.
4 p.m. EDT: The event hasn't started, but I can tell you all of the rumors and leaks are basically true. It looks like what you think, and you will be able to lend e-books to a friend who can read it on their Nook or other device compatible with Barnes and Noble's software.
Also, there are some high-fashion cases from Kate Spade New York and Jonathan Adler.
4:20 p.m. EDT: Things are about to get started.
4:23 p.m. EDT: Barnes & Noble CEO Steve Riggio kicks things off, noting company's entire management team and some of its directors are at the event.
4:25 p.m. EDT: Riggio noted that the company has innovated in the past, re-imagining the college bookstore, becoming the first major bookseller to discount and then moving online, including being the first to offer e-books (an effort it abandoned several years later).
Books, he said, are still a huge market, bigger than music, Riggio noted. "This industry that we are all a part of is still a huge industry."
Launch of software in July was first step to e-books, he said. Today, is the second step.
4:30 p.m. EDT: "Thank you for bearing the Obama blockade to get here," William Lynch, president of Barnes & Noble.com. President Obama is going to be at Columbus Circle this afternoon for an event, leading to extra traffic snarls in the area.
Lynch leads a technology team based in Palo Alto, Calif. Notes that they have had over a million downloads since they launched their e-book store in July. Lynch gives a nod to the Que, the large screen Plastic Logic device due out next year. Barnes & Noble is powering the Que's book store.
4:35 p.m. EDT: "Simply following the leader is not in our DNA," Lynch said, introducing the Nook. Rolls video with some of the details--It supports PDF, uses AT&T's wireless network, can be customized with photos.
4:37 p.m. EDT: Can choose up to five fonts, 2GB of memory on board with Micro SD slot. Nook owners can add pictures, music and personal documents. Use of touchscreen and Android means new features can be added over time.
"LendMe" technology lets users lend a book for up to two weeks from one Nook to another. They demo using Malcolm Gladwell's "The Tipping Point." Mid-demo, Gladwell comes on stage in person and starts reading from his book.
"Just to be clear Malcolm Gladwell does not come with the book," one executive quipped. However early Nook customers will get a free copy of "The Tipping Point" with their e-reader.
4:45 p.m. EDT: Riggio notes Nook will be sold in all Barnes & Noble stores this holiday season, adding that the retail stores will be a huge advantage, with its 40,000 store workers serving as ambassadors to help customers understand e-books. In-store users will be able to browse complete e-Books in store at the stores over the Nook's built in Wi-Fi.
4:46 p.m. EDT: Pre-orders begin tonight online and soon in stores, but device itself won't be in stores and ship until the end of November. As mentioned, it will cost $259.
4:47 p.m. EDT: Riggio promises more to come. "We're going to blow you away with what we've got in store in the future," Riggio said.
4:48 p.m. EDT: Formal event is over, but there is a media Q and A, so we'll try and find out about Web browsing, apps and other questions.
5:00 p.m. EDT: Got some answers.
No Web browser: We think browsers on e-ink are a really clumsy experience," said Lynch.
As for apps, nothing to announce today, but the company did choose Android in part because it liked fact that lots of people were developing for Android.
"It's not lost on us there will be a lot of development on Android," Lynch said.
Lending does work from Nook to other devices, as I indicated earlier. However, they noted that some books are lendable and others are not, per the wishes of the publishers.
The Nook supports PDF and ePub formats, as well as legacy Fictionwise, but not, Microsoft Word.
Wi-Fi is only in the store, for now, to allow streaming and free content.
5:09 p.m. EDT: More from the Q and A session.
The touch screen is capacitive, similar to the iPhone. Library e-books could be side loaded onto the Nook if they are in PDF or ePub format.
"We're committed to being extremely competiitve on e-Book pricing, whatever that means," Lynch said.
Lending works similar to in the physical world. If you have lent a book to someone else, you don't have access to it while it has been lent.
5:13 p.m. EDT: The company is exploring creating an e-Reader application for other Android devices and also plans to support Windows Mobile.
Lynch said that the company has also been talking with publishers about the notion of bundling where those that buy a physical book would also be able to get a digital copy.