Barnes and Noble is taking on the success of Amazon’s ebook sales by expanding its ebook store and becoming the exclusive provider of ebooks to a new brand of handheld ebook reader.

The new Barnes and Noble ebook store will have an enormous selection of downloadable books, dwarfing even Amazon’s ebook collection. While Amazon carries about 300,000 ebooks, Barnes and Noble will carry 700,000 on its website. Within the next year, Barnes and Noble plans to expand this selection again, eventually carrying a million ebooks in its ebook store.

More than 500,000 of the Barnes and Noble ebooks are ones that have already been introduced to the public domain. Those will be free ebook selections that can be downloaded from the site and read in a variety of ebook readers. The website’s ebook store has free reader downloads for PCs, Macs, iPhones and the BlackBerry.

The Plastic Logic Ebook Reader

Soon, the Barnes and Noble website inventory of ebooks will also be readable on the new Plastic Logic e-reader that is currently in development. Barnes and Noble has entered a partnership with Plastic Logic to make Barnes and Noble the exclusive provider of ebooks for the device. The new ebook reader will be introduced in early 2010.

The Plastic Logic ebook reader has a thin design, and it’s made to be durable. The reader measures just 7mm thick and has an 8.5 by 11-inch screen. It will have a greyscale text and graphic display similar to the Amazon Kindle, the current reigning champion of the handheld ebook readers currently on the market.

Until the Plastic Logic ebook reader is released, the ebooks on the Barnes and Noble website can be read with any of the free reader downloads on the site. The ebooks available on the site are priced in line with Amazon’s ebook prices. Most books can be downloaded for $9.99.

Amazon Kindle Competition

With an ebook store more than triple the size of Amazon’s and an ebook reader that has been promised to be competitively priced, Barnes and Noble may break the hold on the handheld ebook reader that Amazon has so far held with the Amazon Kindle.

Ebook sales are increasing as the Kindle has gained more readers and has become more affordable. If the Pastic Logic ebook reader is even less expensive, the book publishing world will likely continue to change. Ebook sales now represent about one percent of all book sales.