Barnes & Noble is back in the headlines this morning with the announcement that it will be offering free Wi-Fi in all 777 of its stores throughout the United States. “[A bookstore is] a gathering place and Wi-Fi access is increasingly becoming something that customers expect in public places,” Steve Riggio, chief executive of Barnes & Noble, told the press.
(The bookselling chain has been offering WiFi access in its stores since 2005, but at a price: customers paid $3.95 for a two-hour session.)
The new free service is all about building traffic, Riggio stressed. “More people means more customers interacting with our booksellers, more opportunities for our booksellers to serve them, more time for customers to discover and explore what we have on our shelves and as we are entering an increasingly digital and connected world, it enables customers to sample e-books from our Web site," he told the press.
Ah, yes – those e-books. Barnes & Noble also announced just last week that it was jumping into the e-book market. They are newcomers – but they will be working hard now to make up for lost time.
So if you're interested in the future of e-books, watch carefully to see what Barnes & Noble does next. In an interview yesterday with jkontherun, Steve Pendergrast, CTO of Fictionwise, the e-bookseller recently purchased by Barnes & Noble, said that the chain "will have announcements in the coming months that address further innovation in the works."
Pendergast said he was "not in a position to divulge" what these innovations might be, but what they will demonstrate, he said, is that "mass adoption of e-books is coming.”