I've been reading up on e-readers lately and it appears that one of the most interesting features of Barnes & Noble's Nook is its "LendMe" technology, as described on the company website:
Share favorite eBooks with your friends or family. Most eBooks can be lent for up to 14 days at a time. Just choose the eBook you want to share and send it to your friend's nook – or to any PC or Mac OS® or any iPhone™ or iPod touch® with the free Barnes & Noble eReader software downloaded on it. *BlackBerry® & other smartphones will be coming in early 2010.
The tagline for LendMe is "What goes around comes around." So, if I buy a B&N Nook ($259, back-ordered until February 2010), and pay around $10 to read a copy of The Time Traveler's Wife, then "lend" my copy to my friend who bought a Nook ($259), B&N makes $528—instead of $538, had my friend bought her own copy of The Time Traveler's Wife to read on her Nook. (However, B&N probably only has to pay one licensing fee for the copy of The Time Traveler's Wife that I bought, rather than two fees had each of us bought a copy.)
Further, B&N has tapped into a tried-and-true psychological phenomenon that has worked for everyone from the airport beggars of the 70s to the neo-hippy kids of the 90s: Give a person something—no matter how small—and that person will feel compelled to pay you back in some way. For example, my friend and I are in B&N and see that if we both buy a Nook, we can share books, so one of us gets free books, or we both get them for half the price if we work together. We each buy a Nook and B&N has already made $518 off of the two of us, and will continue to make money off of us, either incrementally as we purchase one book to share, or in upgrades as we become accustomed to using our devices and will need the latest models.
Of course, if I share the content to my friend's PC, Mac, iPhone or iPhone Touch, my friend will have had to register with B&N and download its e-reader software, with the added bonus that any content I share will act as a personalized advertisement for B&N's Nook. Apparently, what goes around does come around—right back to B&N.