While Amazon is way ahead of the competition in the race for control over the soon-to-be billion-dollar e-reading industry, the game has just begun, and major players entering the field might make for a much more interesting battle.

Barnes and Noble, whose business has been slipping over the past decade with the increase in publishing costs and the slump in sales, in March paid nearly $16 million for Fictionwise.com, a Scott Pendergrast company launched in 2000 with an eye to corner the e-book market.

With an e-book supplier as large as Fictionwise, Barnes and Noble seems to be taking slightly different strategic approach than Amazon, which is focusing many of its resources to turn its Kindle and Kindle 2 into the iPod of e-readers.

Last month, Barnes and Noble released a free e-reader for BlackBerry devices, utilizing Fictionwise’s content, which comes in a variety of formats. The BlackBerry reader should allow Barnes and Noble to create a supporter base by the time it launches its own complete e-bookstore, which might happen before the end of the year, according to PaidContent.org.

A new online bookstore that competes with Amazon will take the pressure off of content providers and onto hardware developers, which is how the e-reading game becomes fun for consumers.

While the Kindle 2 has gotten rave reviews, emerging new models of e-readers threaten to challenge its success by giving e-readers a variety of options.

Readius, a pocket e-reader soon to be released, has one up on the Kindle for portability and uses a flexible “e-paper” screen developed by PolymerVision.

Readius market release has not been confirmed yet, but the company plans on launching in Europe and then North America.

Sony’s Reader boasts “e-ink technology” that makes the screen easy to see even in direct sunlight, a feature built after complaints that the first Kindle was hard to see in some weather conditions. Although the Reader is simpler and nearly $100 cheaper than the Kindle 2, Sony may need to boost their content partnerships to compete with Amazon and Barnes and Noble’s e-book selection.