Barnes & Noble may have decided last month to start looking for business partners for the Nook, but that doesn't mean they're cutting back. There are signs that B&N is planning to expand their staff, office space, and launch new services this year.
Mike Cane turned up some interesting trademarks this morning. It seems that last month B&N went a little crazy with their paperwork; they filed a couple dozen trademarks. Most weren't all that interesting; they covered obvious terms like Nook Boutique, Nook in Business, or Nook Apps. They're worth noting but they don't reveal any shocking new features. But then there is a term that, even though is buried in with the mass, make my heart skip a beat.
I'm particularly interested in Nook Instant Answers. A google search turned upn nothing, but the trademark filing does offer a hint:
Providing a website featuring information, non-downloadable knowledge databases and customer service in the fields of electronic books, magazines and newspapers, downloadable music, downloadable computer, portable electronic books reader, ...
Do you recall the Q&A feature that the original Kindle shipped with? Amazon since dropped it, but I'd say that this might function in a similar manner. Unfortunately, there's no sign where B&N will be getting the info. Amazon relied on their Mechanical Turk user base to answer questions; B&N would probably have to arrange a deal with Wolfram Alpha or another real language search engine.
On related note, there's also a new trademark for "Nook Cloud". The term isn't new, so I wouldn't get too excited. That's what B&N calls part of the back end for the Nook Store. They already employ people under similar job titles.
But what does excite me is the dozen or so new job listings that mention the Nook Cloud, and some recent real estate news. B&N just signed the lease to 200 thousand sq ft of office space in the Stanford Research Park. That's a sizable space, and according to my source B&N could move in as early as this summer. It also looks like they are already trying to fill the new offices with people; B&N has 71 job opening right now in Palo Alto, and 61 involve the Nook in some way.
This is not a company that is giving up on the Nook nor are they cutting back. If anything, all this new investment suggests that B&N is pinning their hopes on digital.
Let's hope it works out for them.