So, what’s the one feature missing from Barnes & Noble’s Nook hardware? If you said “Ice Cream Sandwich”, you’re… well you’re right, but not in this context. If you said “a camera for web chat”…. well you’re probably right there too. But for a retail-focused company like Barnes & Noble, one of the things they’re missing is NFC. According to a Forbes interview with B&N CEO William Lynch, they won’t be missing it for long.

Lynch told the interviewer in no uncertain terms that they planned to start shipping Nooks with NFC chips, to help support the more physical aspect of the bookselling business. He gave some pretty explicit examples of Near Field Communication’s applications in a retail environment:

We can work with the publishers so they would ship a copy of each hardcover with an NFC chip embedded with all the editorial reviews they can get on BN.com. And if you had your Nook, you can walk up to any of our pictures, any our aisles, any of our bestseller lists, and just touch the book, and get information on that physical book on your Nook and have some frictionless purchase experience. That’s coming, and we could lead in that area.

Sounds pretty straightforward to us, so long as you make the rather large assumption that people will take their e-readers to a physical bookstore in order to browse. When, you know, they could just got to the Barnes & Noble ebook store. That’s already on their Nook, Nook Color or Nook Tablet.

Lynch didn’t say when new models would be coming, but answered with a tepid “maybe” to whether or not new Nooks with NFC would appear this year. Given previous releases, Barnes & Noble is due for an update to the current Nook Tablet in the fall. Of course with B&N and Microsoft’s new cozy relationship, who knows if the next Nook will even run Android…