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From the department of unintended irony, courtesy Barnes & Noble

September 27, 2012|By Carolyn Kellogg
  • A Barnes & Noble bookstore in Washington.
A Barnes & Noble bookstore in Washington. (Karen Bleier / AFP )

Many companies have been making an effort to green their businesses, finding ways to use fewer resources. One way has been to convert traditional paper-based processes to electronic ones.

There's really no faulting Barnes & Noble for choosing to pay its employees by direct deposit, rather than using paper payroll checks.

Except that it means, in one part of its business, Barnes & Noble has gone paperless.

"I find it ironic that a book retailer would go paperless," wrote a Barnes & Noble staffer on the Facebook page of journalist Lisa Napoli. Napoli, who can be heard on KCRW and is the author of "Radio Shangri-La," agreed.

Barnes & Noble, of course, is the last national brick-and-mortar bookseller standing. The growing popularity of e-books, economic pressures and the success of online retailer Amazon forced onetime rival Borders into bankruptcy in 2011.

On Wednesday, Barnes & Noble unveiled a new generation of its Nook tablet, the 7-inch Nook HD and the 9-inch NOOK HD+. The full-color tablets are higher resolution than the earlier Nooks. Like the Kindle Fire and Apple's iPad, the new Nooks can play video, which Barnes & Noble recently announced it will sell and rent through its tablets. 

And yes, the new Nook tablets will be able to read e-books too. They're priced from $199 to $299 and can be pre-ordered now. Come November, they'll also be available in Barnes & Noble's brick-and-mortar stores -- right next to piles of printed books.

E-books notwithstanding, paper books are still an essential part of Barnes & Noble's business -- even if printed paychecks are not.

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