The deal is a coup for Plastic Logic, a startup that has figured out how to make electronic displays out of plastic. The Mountain View, Calif.-based company plans to launch its Que proReader, an eBook reader for business people, in early 2010.
For Barnes & Noble, the world’s largest book retailer, the deal is a chance to compete with market leader Amazon.com on two levels. Amazon itself has two different Kindle book readers on the market. Last week, Barnes & Noble announced its Nook eBook reader, which has a six-inch screen and a tiny color horizontal display at the bottom that you can use to browse through the B&N online bookstore. The Que, by contrast, is a high-end reader with a 8.5-inch by 11-inch touchscreen. It is a black-and-white model that uses E-Ink to display books on a page. But it is made out of plastic and is flexible. Despite its large size, it weighs less than a pound and is razor thin at a third of inch thick. Richard Archuleta, chief executive of Mountain View, Calif.-based Plastic Logic, said in an interview that he is positioning the Que as a high-end business reader’s tool. The Que will let people view Microsoft Office files, Adobe PDFs, videos, and other kinds of documents as well as newspapers, magazines and books. Both the Que and the Nook will be sold side by side.
Plastic Logic plans to disclose more information, such as the price, in January at the Consumer Electronics Show. Archuleta said the Que will have more than a million eBooks available in its own Que store, via Barnes & Noble. Content deals are in the works, but so far the Que will be able to display newspapers like the Financial Times, USA Today, and the Detroit area papers.
Plastic Logic was founded in 2000 and was one of the winners of a DEMOgod award in the fall of 2008. It originally planned to launch in 2009, but postponed so that it could make quality improvements in its plastic electronics manufacturing plant in Dresden, Germany.