Barnes & Noble is offering a new free e-book every week for the next few weeks, with a twist: to redeem the e-book download, you have to come into a Barnes & Noble store and show them your Nook or your general-purpose device (iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Blackberry, HTC HD2, PC, or Mac) running Barnes & Noble’s eReader. (Or just bring the device and the staff will help you put eReader on it.) You then receive a voucher you can redeem at B&N’s website to download your e-book.

On the one hand, this seems to negate one of the key advantages of e-books—the ability to get them without having to bestir yourself from your comfortable chair. But on the other, it is a way to get people into the store, at which point they might theoretically buy a physical book. Though on the gripping hand, it is doubtful too many people who want a free e-book will be terribly interested in buying a costly physical one.

This week’s free title, available through May 23rd, is The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith. Next week’s title is Storm Front, the first Dresden Files novel, by Jim Butcher. Other titles will include The Long Tail by Chris Anderson, Home Safe by Elizabeth Berg, and One Shot by Lee Childs. All e-book vouchers can be redeemed through July 1.

More information can be found in Barnes & Noble’s press release.

(Found via Nate’s E-book News.)


  1. I think it’s great that BN is working on ways to make eBooks and bookstores compatible. For sure, I like to look at books, flip through bookshelves, then decide what to buy. Whether that type of interest can sustain the high overhead of running retail stores with thousands of feet of floor space, I’m not sure. I have to hope so, though. A bookstore is a great place to have a coffee.

    Rob Preece

  2. B&N definitely wants its NOOK owners to drop by the stores regularly. The NOOK offers some free goodies when it’s within range of a B&N Wi-Fi hotspot: More In Store freebies, Read In Store, and occasionally special coupons and the like.

    Not all books are available as e-books; books with photos and artwork are particularly resistant to e-publishing. The NOOK is sold for use by adults, and there’s a large children’s book section at most B&N stores.

    Plus, B&N sells more than just books. While you’re in the store you might see a promotional banner of interest, spot a display of books that triggers you to buy an e-book, pick up a magazine or two, buy some CDs (how quaint), maybe buy an accessory for your NOOK, or stop in at the B&N Cafe. And it doesn’t hurt for the other shoppers to see people walking around holding, or sitting around reading, their NOOKs.

    In contrast, once you buy a Kobo reader at Borders, you’ll have a lot less reason to ever set foot in a Borders store again. And Borders has already been shuttering their stores at an unfortunate rate.

    Barnes & Noble doesn’t want us NOOK owners to forget about the B&N stores. Seems like good thinking to me.

  3. I think it’s also about getting a lot of people who have iPhones, Droids, Blackberries, etc, into the stores to get a Nook downloaded onto their machines. The platform price isn’t the big money maker – selling a bunch of e-books is.

    And you win the internets for using the Niven-Pournelle expression.