Barnes & Noble plans to add near-field communication (NFC) technology to its Nook e-reader platform, chief executive William Lynch said Tuesday.
According to a question-and-answer session in Fortune, B&N plans to ask publishers to embed NFC chips inside hardback books, turning the Nook into a sort of "second screen" for the bookstore.
"We're going to start embedding NFC chips into our Nooks," Lynch said. "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."
When asked if B&B could add that concept this year, Lynch replied, "Maybe".
Near-field technology is an embedded chip that can communicate securely over short-range distances. The technology is most commonly associated with a Google mobile point-of-sale payment technology, Google Wallet, although other forms of mobile payments can use it as well.
The difference between Barnes & Noble and its chief rival, Amazon, is that B&N also owns brick-and-mortar stores to complement its online business. For many, that dependence on physical book sales has driven companies like Borders into bankruptcy. For Barnes & Noble, however, the challenge is to turn that physical bookstore into an advantage.
"We feel like we still have a lot of opportunity in the offline-online integration, and how we integrate stores," Lynch said. "We've done I think one of the better jobs in terms of creating a Nook experience in our stores to really improve the overall consumer experience. Certainly on the front end with our stores and show rooms, we worked very hard putting those Nook boutiques in the front of the stores. ... But I think there are things we have yet to do. If we had more time, I would try to figure out how to unlock cool experiences."
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