Barnes & Noble bookseller is starting its own e-bookstore, giving access to more than 700,ooo books online which can be read on a number of technical  devices. It would have them going head-to-head with rival Amazon, meaning exchange traded funds (ETFs) could benefit.

Books at Barnes & Noble (BKN) will be able to be read through an iPhone, Blackberry or laptop and desk computer as the largest bookseller is going to carry over into an e-bookstore after acquiring Fictionwise. Motoko Rich for The New York Times reports that more than 500,000 of the books now offered electronically on can be downloaded free, through an agreement with Google.

Barnes & Noble will be up against Amazon (AMZN) as the world’s largest e-bookstore, which offers about 330,000 choices for its Kindle . The number of e-books available on compares with 1.2 million in stock that can be bought in print form from the company’s site.

Best-sellers and new releases will be available in e-book version for $9.99 for the first six months of its release, a price comparable to Amazon’s Kindle service.

Rather than “stealing business” from Amazon, industry insiders say that they are promoting the growth of e-books as an industry as a whole.

ETFs offer the comfort of investment in these companies without the guessing of single stock-picking:

  • Consumer Direct Select Sector SPDR (XLY): up 13.6% year-to date; Amazon 3.7% of assets

  • Retail HOLDRs (RTH): up 6.8% year-to-date; Amazon 7.5%

For more stories about retail, visit our retail category.

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.