In response to Amazon’s release of their e-book reader, the Kindle, Barnes and Noble have responded with a product of their own: the Nook.

Proclaiming itself ‘The World’s Most Advanced E-Reader’, the Nook sports a host of functions intended to set it apart from its competitors, possibly the most important of which being a second touchscreen that displays book covers in full colour, placed just below the standard black and white reading frame. This affords the user a ‘click-to-open’ system for selecting their e-books from any menu.

Like the Kindle, the Nook also offers wireless browsing of the e-book store. Interestingly this service is offered free in Barnes and Noble outlets, and in addition allows customers to browse samples of the e-books included in the catalogue for no cost, regardless of whether the book itself is in stock.
However, in what could be an understandable downside in terms of selling points, Nook owners will be required to sign up for AT&T’s 3G mobile broadband if they want to connect further afield.

In terms of storage, the Nook provides a 2 Gigabyte memory as standard – in comparison to the Kindle 1’s 250 Megabytes of storage. Users can hold up to 1,500 e-books on the internal memory or, for those with larger libraries, purchase the expanded memory slot, giving them space for a massive 17,500 e-books in total.

Where the Nook shines though is through a new lending system, with which users will be able to share purchased e-books with a number of their friends. Despite confusion as to exactly how many times a purchase can be ‘lent’, and exactly which products will be included in this feature, the Nook is the only e-reader to attempt this endeavour.

Selling at $259 (£155) the Nook matches the cost of the standard Kindle, with the Kindle 2 (who’s storage capacity matches the Nook) selling for approximately $100 (£60) more. Titles bought via the B&N store will, as standard, level out at around $9.99 (£6)