A price war in e-book readers broke out this morning, but neither Amazon.com
Barnes & Noble
However, the retailer won't stop there. Following Apple's iPad by offering cheaper non-3G gadgetry, Barnes & Noble is also introducing a $149 model that relies solely on Wi-Fi connectivity for downloads. Barnes & Noble is also teaming up with AT&T
Barnes & Noble should have done this all along. Matching Amazon's Kindle at the $259 price point was a gutsy move. Sure, the Nook supplements its E-Ink screen with a neat color touchscreen, a feature the Kindle lacks, but Amazon has the brand and market-share leadership. Barnes & Noble and Sony
How will Apple and Amazon react to the Nook's price cut? Apple is unlikely to flinch, since its multifaceted iPad is already selling briskly. Owners may have downloaded 5 million e-books during the iPad's first two months on the market, but it's still perceived as a portable tablet for email and leisurely Web browsing.
Amazon is the more likely juggernaut to fire back. It has been gradually slashing its Kindle's price tag since its introduction at $399 three years ago, and Nook's new price points can't be ignored.
The leading online retailer realizes that it needs to smoke out new leads outside of its digital storefront. It finally began selling its Kindle through Target
Barnes & Noble can't stop there. The Nook quietly raised the bar with its dual screen and e-book sharing feature, but those specs will become more tempting, now that the device is considerably cheaper than Amazon's Kindle. Since most readers are compatible with rival online bookstores, price points and spec sheets are bound to matter.
Your move, Amazon.
Will Barnes & Noble be a legitimate player in this space after this morning's moves? Share your thoughts in the comments box below.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has been shopping online for about as long as Amazon.com has been in business. He owns a Kindle and an iPad. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.