* Nook to be available at Best Buy stores as of April 18
* Best Buy to offer Barnes & Noble software on some PCs
* Best Buy only retailer ex-B&N to sell the Nook
* Barnes & Noble shares up 3 cents at $22.80 (Adds details on agreement, iPad and Kindle, byline)
By Phil Wahba
NEW YORK, April 12 (Reuters) - Barnes & Noble Inc (BKS.N) will sell its Nook electronic-book reader at Best Buy Co Inc (BBY.N), expanding distribution as it faces growing competition with the entry of Apple Inc’s (AAPL.O) iPad.
The deal will put the $259.99 Nook in Best Buy’s 1,070 stores beginning on April 18, making the electronics retailer the first chain to carry the device other than Barnes & Noble, the largest U.S. specialty bookstore chain.
Best Buy will also include Barnes & Noble’s BN eReader software on some of the personal computers and smartphones it sells.
Currently, the Nook is available at Barnes & Noble’s website and 723 bookstores.
Barnes & Noble launched the Nook in October, aiming to take on Amazon.com’s (AMZN.O) Kindle and Sony Corp’s Sony Reader (6758.T) for the holidays, but the device only arrived in stores in February after a number of production delays.
The company is focusing on the growth of the e-book market to overcome a long-term sales decline at its brick-and-mortar stores. Analysts estimate that digital books account for about 5 percent of overall U.S. book industry sales and see more readers migrating to the format.
Last month, Barnes & Noble named William Lynch, who oversaw the development and launch of Nook, as chief executive officer. [ID:nSGE62H0GV] During the holiday quarter, comparable sales at Barnes & Noble’s physical stores fell 5.5 percent, while online sales surged 32 percent.
The deal with Best Buy will greatly increase the Nook’s availability and ability to compete directly with the recently launched iPad, an entertainment system that also functions as an e-reader and is sold at Best Buy in addition to Apple’s stores.
Apple said last week that it had sold about 450,000 iPads in its first few days. [ID:nN08199547] Barnes & Noble and Amazon have declined to provide sales figures for their e-readers, but each claims its device is enjoying robust sales.
Best Buy also carries Sony Corp’s e-reader, while Amazon sells its market-leading Kindle on its website.
Barnes & Noble shares were up 3 cents at $22.80 in morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange. (Reporting by Phil Wahba in New York and Brad Dorfman in Chicago, editing by Dave Zimmerman and Lisa Von Ahn)