Barnes & Noble Starts Rolling Out Its Kindle Killer

Barnes & Noble’s (BKS) new e-book platform won’t save its shrinking retail business, but it could provide some sorely needed competition to Amazon’s (AMZN) Kindle.

The book retail giant just announced its new e-book strategy. It includes:

  • An e-book store with 700,000 titles and pricing competitive to Amazon’s, including $9.99 bestsellers.
  • An exclusive deal to provide e-books for the forthcoming Plastic Logic e-book reader, which will debut early next year.
  • More than 500,000 public domain books from Google, which are free.
  • An updated version of its e-reader app, part of its Fictionwise purchase earlier this year. This includes support for Apple’s iPhone, which Amazon supports, and the BlackBerry, Mac, and PC, which Amazon doesn’t support.
  • Free e-books for first-time users.

Will B&N be able to catch up with Amazon? The Kindle certainly has a head start. But it’s not like the Kindle is an iPod-like hit yet that can’t be toppled.

Its success will factor on a lot of variables, such as how the Plastic Logic device is priced and perceived, how Amazon develops and prices the Kindle line, how well Apple’s reportedly forthcoming tablet acts as an e-book reader, etc.

And Barnes & Noble isn’t solving every Kindle problem, either: Neither company, so far, is offering free or cheap e-books for people who already own copies of physical books.

But the race just got more interesting.

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