Barnes & Noble NOOKstudy Aims To Unify Education Text/Study Market

Barnes & Noble's NOOK started as just an e-reader. It was the primary rival to Amazon's Kindle, and it offered something major that Amazon couldn't: another screen. But the lower color LCD that enables users to wade through book titles isn't the only thing. B&N can also showcase their device in their wide array of stores, and getting the device in front of faces is also a huge plus. But one thing that B&N has done that's more interesting than any of that is turn NOOK into more than a product; today, it's a brand.

NOOK now stands for all-things-ebook with relation to Barnes & Noble, and if you thought that the bookseller was content just moving titles to regular consumers, think again. The company has just revealed NOOKstudy, which is a totally new approach to delivering eTextbooks and similar materials to students. This is a market waiting to be exploited, and B&N is hoping to be first. Of course, Amazon's Kindle DX hasn't been well-received in many universities, but that may be because no real eTextbook delivery infrastructure exists. NOOKstudy is delivering just that.

It's a desktop app that works on Macs and PCs, and obviously doesn't require nor really use the NOOK e-reader device. When installed, it provides students with access to a wide library of textbooks at up to 40% less than standard books. Furthermore, the app is more than just a book seller; it's a wide-reaching solution, enabling students to manage all their digital content – eTextbooks, class materials, and notes. OOKstudy lets students view multiple books and sources at once and offers access to complementary content (e.g. toolsets, reference materials, etc.), as well as the unprecedented ability to highlight and take notes that are searchable and customizable, and the comprehensive software solution also provides students access to all of their materials – eTextbooks, lecture notes, syllabi, slides, images, trade books and other course-related documents – all in one place, so their digital library goes wherever they go.

The biggest news is that this really has a chance to succeed based on the partnerships: relationships with many leading publishers of higher education content exist, including Pearson, Cengage Learning, McGraw-Hill, Springer and Elsevier Science & Technology Books. Also, NOOKstudy will be compatible with the company’s entire catalog of eBooks and digital content, including relevant study aids, test prep guides, periodicals, and hundreds of thousands of trade and professional titles.

Currently, NOOKstudy is being used in several private and public 2-year, 4-year and research institutions, including Pennsylvania State University, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Queensboro Community College, and Rochester Institute of Technology, and it will be widely available to everyone else in the Fall of 2010, just as school starts back. This certainly sounds promising, but only time will tell if schools will latch on or continue rely on the tried-and-true paper book method.