October 27, 2011, 4:27 PM

The Nook e-reader gets its own nook in Barnes & Noble stores

The retailer will create 2,000-square-foot Nook Digital Shops within its stores.

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The Nook is getting its own space inside B&N stores.

Barnes & Noble Inc.’s e-reader and digital content business will generate $1.8 billion in sales this year, and CEO William Lynch said this morning that the retailer will soon dedicate an average of 2,000 square feet to the Nook business in each Barnes & Noble store location to drive even more sales. The average Barnes & Noble retail store is 26,000 square feet. Previously, the retailer featured its Nook e-reading devices on display tables near the front of the store.

The retail chain will start rolling out the store-within-a-store concept in the coming weeks and months, Lynch said today at Forrester Research Inc.’s Consumer Forum event in Chicago. Nook Digital Shops will feature all the Nook e-reader devices available for sale and be staffed with store clerks dedicated to digital.

Lynch showed a computerized rendering of the shop that included specialized stations for consumers to explore newsstand content, content for kids and the apps and games consumers can run on some Nook devices. The rendering also included large tables where consumers can play with the devices, akin to the set-up of an Apple Store.

The rendering of the Nook Digital Shop also included a section that appeared to promote the playing of video content on the Nook, a capability some of the currently available Nook devices don’t have, except through its web browser. When questioned about whether a more versatile, video-enabled Nook is on its way, Lynch declined to answer but recommended that consumers thinking about shopping early for an e-reader as a Christmas gift hold off on their purchase. “We want to be innovative leaders as it relates to digital content and we’re not done,” he said. He said Barnes & Noble has no set schedule for Nook product introductions.

Barnes & Noble sells its Nook devices in approximately 12,000 retail stores, including those operated by Best Buy Co. and Wal-Mart, and at its about 700 Barnes & Noble stores and online. Lynch said that 30% of the consumers who come to Barnes & Noble stores want their books in a digital format and that the retailer’s Nook bookstore and associated e-book buying apps sell 27% of all e-books in the U.S.

 BarnesandNoble.com Inc. is No. 41 in Internet Retailer’s Top 500 Guide. Best Buy is No. 11 and Wal-Mart is No. 6.

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