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Thursday, March 11, 2010, 10:15 am PT (01:15 pm ET)

Barnes & Noble announces intent to release iPad e-reader app

Bookseller Barnes & Noble revealed Thursday its plans to release its bookstore and e-reading software for the iPad with an application that would compete with Apple's own iBookstore.

The free Barnes & Noble eReader application was released last July and now offers more than a million different titles. The company said it will release a new, iPad-specific version of the software around the time the iPad launches.

"Designed specifically for the iPad," the company said, "our new B&N eReader will give our customers access to more than one million eBooks, magazines and newspapers in the Barnes & Noble eBookstore, as well as the existing content in their Barnes & Noble digital library. (That includes eBooks and content customers have downloaded to their nook eBook reader.)"

Because the Barnes & Noble eReader application would compete with Apple's own iBookstore, it is unknown whether the Cupertino, Calif., company would actually allow the bookseller's new third-party application to be released on the App Store.

Apple's iBooks e-reader application, which includes access to the iBookstore, will not come standard on the iPad. Instead, users will have to download the iBooks application from the App Store onto their iPad.

Barnes & Noble competitor Amazon released its own Kindle application for the iPhone and iPod touch last year. The online retailer has not yet announced any plans for an application for the iPad.

Both Amazon and Barnes & Noble also have their own black-and-white e-ink readers, dubbed the Kindle and Nook, respectively. One recent study found that consumer interest in the Kindle dropped sharply after Apple introduced its multimedia iPad, which features a full color LCD screen. The iPad goes on sale in the U.S. on April 3, and pre-orders begin Friday.