Eat your heart out, Evelyn Wood. Barnes & Noble (NYSE:BKS) is a speedreader, too.

The bookstore giant is wasting no time with this month's acquisition of Fictionwise, the parent company of e-book sites and The beta test release of a new eReader app for Research In Motion's (NASDAQ:RIMM) BlackBerry smartphones is hitting the market today. The free download will allow BlackBerry owners to buy and download any of the 60,000 titles -- and counting -- in Fictionwise's virtual bookstore.

The story sounds vaguely similar to's (NASDAQ:AMZN) move to allow Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone and Web-connected iPod touch users to access Kindle books and publications. But the tale is intriguing this time around because Barnes & Noble didn't seem like much of an e-book player just a month ago.

Smartphones and e-books aren't logical bedfellows right now. Checking out an article or a short story on your BlackBerry Storm or 3G iPhone makes sense, but you'd probably chew on some barbed wire before reading Tolstoy on a tiny smartphone screen.

Thankfully, the future promises to be kinder on your teeth and gums. Just as laptops shrank and evolved into netbooks, what's to stop smartphone makers from meeting netbooks halfway? Chunky cell phones seem like something out of the 1980s, but as texting, email, and Web surfing become bigger components of the mobile computing experience, don't assume that Apple and Research In Motion will simply cede that market to Palm (NASDAQ:PALM) or somebody else.

The notion of a Kindle-shaped smartphone may seem abhorrent, but making calls through a smaller Kindle wouldn't be so bad, would it? There's a sweet spot out there where telephony won't feel so phony as communication and entertainment consumption converge.

Today is a good step in the right direction for Barnes & Noble, even if the company itself doesn't know where it's going with this.

Stories that may have happier endings: