SAN FRANCISCO The new electronic reader from Barnes & Noble Inc, expected to launch on Tuesday, features color, a touchscreen display and the same price tag as Amazon.com Inc's Kindle, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.
The device, which the newspaper said was called "Nook," will compete with the Kindle and Sony Corp's Sony Reader among other electronic readers that allow users to read digital content on a tablet-sized device.
The Journal said the details came from a print advertisement slated for the New York Times' October 25 edition.
Barnes & Noble and the New York Times did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A host of competitors are trying to grab market share from Amazon, which is believed to dominate the fast-growing yet still small industry.
The past month has been characterized by a flurry of activity as booksellers, manufacturers, publishers and wireless operators all hope to gain a toehold in advance of the key holiday selling season.
In July, Barnes & Noble, the largest brick-and-mortar bookseller in the United States, debuted what it called the world's largest online digital bookstore with over 700,000 titles, readable on devices like Apple Inc's iPhone.
Analysts say that Barnes & Noble's advantage could be in its physical stores where users will be able to test out the device, as well as its strong relationship with publishers -- an advantage that Amazon also enjoys.
With a $259 price tag, the same as the Kindle's recently lowered price, Barnes & Noble could potentially lure users away from the Kindle, which some critics say is short on design and functionality.
A color touchscreen display would be considered a plus by some users, who have grown accustomed to higher functionality on devices such as Apple's iPhone and iPod Touch.
E-reader hype has mounted in the past month, as Amazon rolled out the Kindle internationally, Google Inc unveiled plans for an online e-book store, and News Corp's Rupert Murdoch visited Japan and South Korea, possibly to suss out e-reader technology.
Some 3 million e-readers are expected to be sold in the United States this year, with sales doubling in 2010, according to Forrester Research [ID:nN06442999].
On another front, Amazon is facing intense competition over physical books sold online. A price war has emerged in past days, spurred by Wal-Mart Stores Inc's lowering of prices for certain yet-to-be released hardcover books sold at Walmart.com.
On Monday, Target Corp responded to the cuts, lowering its prices to $8.99, matching Wal-Mart's prices.
Shares of Barnes & Noble closed at $20.06 and rose 6 cents in after-hours trade.
(Reporting by Alexandria Sage; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)