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Fred Meyer expands e-reader line with Nooks

Posted: August 2, 2011 - 9:53pm
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The Barnes and Noble Nook color has a 7-inch color touchscreen that can be used to read books, magazines and newspapers, and play games and music as well as provide Internet access.   Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
The Barnes and Noble Nook color has a 7-inch color touchscreen that can be used to read books, magazines and newspapers, and play games and music as well as provide Internet access.

Technology has shifted how customers take in every form of entertainment, and the printed page is no different.

Fred Meyer has been making large strides this year to cater to this trend by inflating its electronic reader product lines. The store has just started carrying the Nook e-reader device by Barnes and Noble as part of this.

Amanda Ip, a spokeswoman for Fred Meyer, said the store first got into the e-readers in late 2009 with those by Sony and the Pandigital. She said this year has seen the biggest expansion with Kindles, iPads and, as of last weekend, Nooks.

Ip said e-readers and tablets have been a hugely popular item for the company and she expects the Nook to be just as popular. She said the company decided on this latest product to give customers an extra option.

“As technology progresses, it’s what our customers are asking for so we provide as much choice as we can,” she said.

Barnes and Noble Director of Public Relations Carolyn Brown said e-reader popularity has exploded over the last few years, with the book chain now selling three digital books for every physical one. She said Barnes and Noble has captured more than 25 percent of the e-book market since its first edition of Nooks.

Brown said such reading devices are useful in places with limited numbers of book sellers because books can be downloaded and read without the need for the stores to be physically there.

Kenneth Antcliff, acting store director for Fred Meyer, said e-readers are gaining more attention in Alaska. He is new to this store but was previously a manager at Fred Meyer in Anchorage. He said while people still like to buy paperbacks, these types of devices did very well there.

He said the technology age has opened the doors to more diverse groups and ages, not just those starting out in reading or those in college.

“We’re starting to see a little better number of folks in the older age groups,” he said.

Antcliff’s predictions seem right on target. Liz Lucas is a retired Juneau school teacher who saw that the new technology had some advantages. Although she grew up with printed books, she said there is always room to update.

Brown commented on the ability to increase font size, which she said is something those with vision or other health problems need.

“I like these tech-y things even though I don’t understand it all. But I’m willing to learn,” she said.

Recent numbers weren’t readily available on Fred Meyer’s printed book sale trends against e-readers. However, Amazon.com has reported selling more electronic books than physical ones within four years of selling them. A recent article in Macworld repeated what Brown said in that Barnes and Noble sold three times as many digital books through its website than printed ones in its fourth fiscal quarter.

Nooks, among other e-reading devices, are also sold in Walmart, Hearthside books does not sell e-reading devices but has Google e-books available through its website.

• Contact reporter Jonathan Grass at 523-2276 or at jonathan.grass@juneauempire.com.

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