Lauren Goode

Recent Posts by Lauren Goode

Barnes & Noble Wants to Be Amazing in Bed, With New GlowLight Nook

There are E-Ink devices that are great for the beach but not great at night, and there are tablet screens that shine brightly in dark rooms but aren’t ideal in sunlight.

So Barnes & Noble is combining E-Ink with a backlit screen in its newest Nook, the Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight.

The 6.5-inch device comes with a glare-free e-reading screen, and text appears in E-Ink, but the Nook’s “N” button at the bottom of the device activates GlowLight and lights up the screen.

The new Nook, which costs $139, also claims faster page-turning and longer battery life than the original Nook Touch — up to 60 hours of continuous reading with the GlowLight turned on to around 18 percent, which sounds a lot dimmer than it is. At 6.95 ounces, it also weighs 5 percent less than its predecessor.

At a New York press event today, Barnes & Noble executives invited journalists to literally hop into bed with them in a dimly-lit room in a Manhattan hotel, where the new device was propped up against Amazon’s Kindle Touch and Apple’s new iPad. The company said internal research shows that two-thirds of U.S. adults say they read in bed, and that 42 percent get annoyed when a partner reads in bed with the light on.

The iPad and Kindle Fire tablet were also displayed alongside the hotel’s outdoor rooftop pool, in direct sunlight. (When asked what the contingency plan was if it rained today, a Barnes & Noble exec said, “Lots of lighting.”)

Barnes & Noble is clearly taking aim at its competitors and looking to stand out in the e-reader category, following disappointing sales of the first Nook Touch.

As AllThingsD’s Peter Kafka reported, in January the company said Nook sales overall were up 70 percent over the holidays, driven by the new Nook Tablet, which competes with the Kindle Fire and iPad. Barnes & Noble also said at the time it was exploring a spinoff of the Nook e-reader unit.

While this device might appeal to an audience serious about e-reading, it’s not for tablet-seekers. While it is Wi-Fi enabled, it doesn’t come with apps, aside from the option to purchase and download e-books from the Barnes & Noble online bookstore, and it doesn’t offer a Web browser. Consumers who buy Barnes & Noble e-books, however, can read that content on apps across other devices.

At $139, the Nook with GlowLight is more expensive than the $99 Kindle Touch Wi-Fi e-reader and costs slightly less than the Kindle Touch with 3G.

The device is available for preorder today, will ship in early May and is expected to hit Barnes & Noble stores in late April.

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There’s a lot of attention and PR around Marissa, but their product lineup just kind of blows.

— Om Malik on Bloomberg TV, talking about Yahoo, the September issue of Vogue Magazine, and our overdependence on Google