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barnes[1] If you want kids to grow up addicted to reading, hook ‘em while they’re young. The Wall Street Journal reports (behind paywall; bypass by clicking through from Google News instead) that Barnes & Noble is launching a new e-reader initiative called Nook Kids, for children between the ages of 3 and 8.

The project is going to include approximately 12,000 chapter books as of last night, 100 picture books by mid-November, and 30 “enhanced” picture books by early 2011. It will be readable online at BarnesandNoble.com, and via an app for iOS and other devices by the end of the year.

As part of the venture, B&N has made deals with more than 15 chilren’s book publishers to create enhanced digital versions of some classic children’s titles. B&N chief executive William Lynch said that this permission wasn’t easy to get. “They don’t want their books turned into a videogame or something strange.”

The initiative is fueling the speculation that has erupted over the last few days in regard to a “color Nook”, since the current black-and-white device is not ideal for viewing colorful picture books. Also, as the WSJ reports, the user interface of Nook Kids enhanced titles requires a full-screen touchscreen that the current Nook doesn’t have.

A Barnes & Noble spokeswoman declined to comment, but CNet’s David Carnoy reports that the image associated with a “Nook Color Screen Film Kit” on bn.com (since taken down) seems to give the game away. If such a device is officially announced, it will almost certainly be at the “very special event” that Barnes & Noble is hosting tomorrow, which TeleRead is attending.

 
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