Books & Review | Cole Garner Hill
Updated: Sep 25, 2012 11:48 AM EDT

Barnes & Noble Announced Limited Free eBook And Magazine Offer On NOOK App for Windows 8.1 For Australian Customers

Barnes & Noble Announced Limited Free eBook And Magazine Offer On NOOK App for Windows 8.1 For Australian Customers (Photo : Reuters)

When Barnes & Noble launched its Nook tablet in 2011 the company strongly hinted that it wanted to add a video service to the device that could allow users to buy and rent movies and TV shows. It seems that day is finally here. Barnes & Noble announced today the company is launching Nook Video this fall in the U.S. and the UK.

With content from major studios including HBO, Sony, Starz, and Warner Bros, and Disney, Nook Video looks like it's ready to try jumping into the ring with the rest of the big boy tablets. Although, Barnes & Noble's private conception of its new video service comes as a bit of a surprise. Most would have likely guessed the company would enlist a third-party service such as Vudu. But the Barnes & Noble obviously invested a lot of time and capital in creating Nook Video from scratch as the company gets set to unveil its new hardware.

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Could Barnes & Noble's Nook Video be quiet confirmation that the company will release a next-generation tablet device to compete with Amazon's new Kindle Fire HD, Apple's rumored new iPad Mini, and Google's Nexus 7 sometime soon? Speculation is certainly high enough. And Amazon has made a huge push into digital video with its Amazon Instant Video service, which already has an impressive catalog. Amazon Prime members pay just $79 a year to stream a wide selection of videos for free. Also, Amazon signed a three-year deal with Hollywood studio Epix that will add thousands of movies to Amazon's video streaming library in the future.

Also, with many physical retail stores like Wal-Mart and Target pushing back against Amazon lately, dropping its Kindle line of tablet devices from their stores, it seems even more likely this is a calculated move by Barnes & Noble (the largest U.S. bookstore chain) to fight back against the online giant.

Like Amazon Instant Video, Barnes & Noble's Nook Video will allow you to stream or download videos you've purchased. At this point it's unclear if Barnes & Noble has additional studios on board, and the company hasn't provided many details on the service, so the announcement is a bit of a teaser.

"Through deals with these and other major studios, the Nook Video catalog will offer something for everyone in the family to enjoy, including Disney-Pixar's Brave and Toy Story 3, Marvel's The Avengers, 21 Jump Street, Awkward, The Artist, Breaking Bad, Dora the Explorer, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Spartacus, Magic City, The Walking Dead, True Blood, Game of Thrones, Harry Potter movies, The Dark Knight, The Hangover and many more."

One thing that's certain is Barnes & Noble is planning to launch free Nook Video apps that will allow you to view Nook Video content you've purchased on other, non-Nook devices, including TVs and smartphones (purchases are stored in the Nook Cloud). Hello? Apple?

Barnes & Noble didn't talk about specific devices, but it seems pretty safe to assume iOS and Android apps will be first out of the gate.

Barnes & Noble says Nook Video "will also integrate a customer's compatible physical DVD and Blu-ray Disc purchases and digital video collection across their devices through UltraViolet." In other words, you'll be able to link your Nook Video and UltraViolet accounts and access your UltraViolet movies from any Nook Video app. Barnes & Noble already sells physical discs in its brick-and-mortar stores. It also offers the Netflix app in the Nook app store, but does not offer HBO Go yet.

Adding videos is definitely necessary for Nook devices to keep pace with Amazon's Kindle devices, which are used by customers to shop not only for books and entertainment but for a wide array of products on its website. That gives the online retailer an enormous advantage over Barnes & Noble.

"Unfortunately for Barnes & Noble, a bookstore, they're going to eventually have to sell everything in order to make their devices competitive," Forrester Research analyst James McQuivey said in an interview.

Barnes & Noble's Nook devices, which McQuivey said are better than Kindles in some instances, have allowed the bookseller to win as much as 30 percent of the U.S. e-books market, according to its own estimates.

The Nook Video service will launch in the United States this fall, and in the United Kingdom, where Barnes & Noble will start selling Nook devices, also this fall - in time for the holiday season.

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