managed to score the interview we all wanted this week; they sat down for a few minutes with the CEO of Barnes & Noble, William Lynch. He shared a few details that were lacking in yesterday’s press stories, including some that showed just how inventive some bloggers were at reading details that weren’t there.
For example, that “MetroNook”conjured up by so many tech bloggers was not based on anything said by B&N; the Nook uses open source software and Mr. Lynch was pretty clear that no future hardware plans have been released. “Currently, we’ve not communicated anything related to the roadmap about any hardware collaboration on Nook. Nook, as you know, uses open sourcing. Microsoft is obviously very entrenched in Windows.”
I’m not surprised. The thing is, I never really understood why so many bloggers assumed that Windows 8 would be the focal point of the future of the Nook platform. Yes, it was mentioned in the press release, but that didn’t mean much. Windows is Windows, there was going to be a Nook app for it no matter what.
He also discussed possible ways that the Nook platform could be integrated into Microsoft’s products. ” On the reading software side, in reading technologies, they’re making interesting integrations into Windows, potentially Office. That kind of work has already started. Definitively yes.”
Of course, using office apps to make ebooks is nothing new; Open Office has had plugins which could make Epub, eReader, and other formats for several years now.
Later in the interview he drops a hint about B&N’s future plans. As you can probably guess from their past efforts to drive traffic to the brick and mortar stores, they’re working on a way to sell more paper books. “We’re going to start embedding NFC chips into our Nooks. We can work with the publishers so they would ship a copy of each hardcover with an NFC chip embedded with all the editorial reviews they can get on BN.com. And if you had your Nook, you can walk up to any of our pictures, any our aisles, any of our bestseller lists, and just touch the book, and get information on that physical book on your Nook and have some frictionless purchase experience. That’s coming, and we could lead in that area.” That might be coming this year, but Mr. Lynch wouldn’t guarantee it.
Elsewhere in the interview we finally get a hint of why B&N partnered with MS and not anyone else. It has little to do with reading ebooks; B&N has that down pat. No, they’re looking to develop better ways to produce ebooks. “So again we haven’t announced anything specifically, but imagine an integration where an information worker, student, author, consumer, creates something in Office and has it immediately published for sale through the Nook book store. It starts to open a lot of exciting possibilities.”
So it looks like I was right; iBooks Author did influence this deal – and for the better, too.