Barnes and Noble has just unveiled the first new e-Reader since 2013, the Nook Glowlight Plus. The intention behind this device is to bring back the glory days, when the bookseller first got into the hardware industry and their name carried a lot of weight. When Barnes and Noble first started developing e-readers, they had a very unique design that stood out in a crowded market. They were the first brand to include an interactive color touchscreen, with the first generation Nook. They also pioneered the modern concept of a front-lit display, to give people the ability to read in the dark, and not rely on external lightning. Does the new Nook offer revolutionary new features and should you buy this new e-ink device?
The Barnes and Noble Nook Glowlight Plus features a six inch e-Ink Carta display with a resolution of 1430 x 1080 and 300 PPI. This e-reader is waterproof, similar to the Kobo Aura H2o. It is IP67 certified, which means you could leave it submerged in fresh water for up to 30 minutes at a maximum depth of 1 meter.
There is no word yet on what processor this has or how much RAM is currently available, but I asked B&N to provide this information. It does have 4 GB of internal memory, of which 2 GB is reserved for NOOK Store content and users have 2 GB in order to load in their own EPUB or PDF Files.
Every e-reader Barnes and Noble has ever released has run the Google Android operating system. This provides flexibility in development and the bookseller is able to bring over features from their e-book apps for Android . The Nook Glowlight Plus is running Android 4.4 KitKat, which is a huge upgrade that should boost performance.
One of the big new features on this e-reader is Nook Readouts. This is a system the bookseller unveiled last week for their line of Samsung tablets and their line of apps for Android and iOS. B&N Readouts comprises of book excerpts in popular genres and topics, including Fiction, Romance, Mysteries & Thrillers, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Teen & Young Adult, Lifestyle, Books & Ideas, Science & Tech and Business & Innovation. It also offers customers sneak peeks of upcoming books and special bonus content from authors and publishers. There is also featured articles from a myriad of magazines too, giving you a sense of featured stories, without having to actually download or purchase the entire issue.
Barnes and Noble has also ported in their popular NOOK Profiles feature, previously available only on the companies line of tablets. NOOK Profiles transforms NOOK GlowLight Plus into any family member’s own e-Reader, where they can access personalized content and recommendations with a quick tap of the screen. Parents will appreciate the ease of setting up profiles for their children with relevant kid-friendly NOOK content for their kids to build a love of chapter books. Setup is intuitive, simple and seamless, and previously created NOOK Profiles will automatically transfer to new devices.
One of the biggest problems facing the Barnes and Noble Nook hardware division is marketing. The company never teases their audience with slow product reveals or sneak peaks. They don’t take pre-orders weeks in advance, in order to build up customer demand. Instead, they keep their loyal Nook users completely in the dark, seldom giving them a reason not to buy something from the competition.
The only marketing strategy that Barnes and Noble currently employs when issuing a new Samsung Tablet or Nook e-Reader is simply issuing a press release. They hope that they will build up buzz sending it off to tech blogs and media outlets. As soon as the press release is sent out, the new devices are immediately available in hundreds of bookstores all over the US.
I wish Barnes and Noble would leverage the very smart people they have working for the company and find a way to build up demand for a new Nook e-Reader, before the device is officially released. Their corporate head office is in New York and I know for a fact that there are at least a handful of journalists based there.
Apple always runs huge media events when they unveil new products. There are hundreds of journalists present to give hands on reviews of the products, months before they officially come out. This gives magazines, newspapers and blogs a chance to integrate the stories into their news cycle. Amazon also runs events, but they are more low-key and subdued affairs. They let handful of handpicked journalists play with the new technology, snap pictures and post videos to YouTube.
What Amazon and Apple do very well is build up demand well in advance. They let people save money to place pre-orders and inform them a very real product will be released soon. It also dominates headlines and helps a new gadget go viral. Barnes and Noble announcing something and releasing it on the same day is counterproductive and not forward thinking.
Should you buy this?
Barnes and Noble is calling the Nook Glowlight Plus the most lightweight e-reader they ever made, at 6.9 ounces. It is waterproof, dust proof, has a super high resolution screen and incorporates software features never seen on an e-reader before. It has a lifetime in-store warranty, which should build consumer confidence that Barnes and Noble is serious about e-readers again. The overall design is sleek and modern, and forgoes the ridiculous rubber edges from the 2013 model. It is now available for $129.99, with an additional 10% discount for Barnes & Noble Members. I recommend you check it out, its the best e-reader they ever made.
Michael Kozlowski has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past twelve years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times. He Lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.