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Barnes & Noble's NOOK eReader eyes Kindle crown

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Barnes & Noble, the books retailer with more than 700 stores in the US, has today started UK pre-orders for its NOOK eReader products.

Challenging Amazon's market-leading Kindle range, the NOOK Simple Touch and NOOK Simple Touch with GlowLight are handheld devices for reading digital books.

NOOK Simple Touch Reader

© NOOK

NOOK Simple Touch Reader

© NOOK



The NOOK Simple Touch offers a high quality, six-inch touch-screen with 'e-ink' - a text display technology that makes it easy to read in even bright sunshine, such as while sitting on the beach.

Rather than a traditional LCD touchscreen, the display uses a layer of infrared beams to detect the user's touch gestures.

The eReader has been designed to be easy to hold, including ridges around the rubberised back that make it more comfortable to grip the device.

Despite strong competition from the Kindle fire, Barnes & Noble has built a 27% share of the eReader market in the US, and it will hope to repeat this in the UK.

The firm has priced the entry-level Simple Touch aggressively at £79, compared to £109 for the equivalent Kindle Touch.

In addition to e-ink, the top-end Simple Touch features GlowLight technology for reading while in bed.

Designed specifically not to disturb a partner's sleep, the integrated lighting solution features adjustable brightness for differing light conditions. The product is priced at £109.

Both NOOK eReaders weigh 200 grams and come with 2GB of internal storage - 1GB for the user and 750MB reserved to Barnes & Noble content. NOOK can hold up to 1,000 ebooks, and the storage can also be expanded.

The NOOK battery on a full charge gives two months of reading with the WiFi off, although this is cut down to one month in the GlowLight model if constantly using the backlight.

Barnes & Noble's battery tests are based on around half an hour of daily reading time, while the GlowLight data was drawn from using the tablet at the default brightness setting.

Barnes & Noble Nook
Nook Simple Touch With GlowLight

© Barnes & Noble















NOOK wireless connects via WiFi to the NOOK Store, offering more than 2.5 million digital books ranging from bestsellers to titles self-published using the PubIt programme. Any purchased NOOK content is stored in the NOOK Cloud.

Alongside eBooks, customers can also browse a range of UK magazines and newspapers, as well as discover new content via NOOK Channels, a recommendations system that suggests material depending on their interests. Social readers can swap books with friends through the LendMe system.

"NOOK Simple Touch puts the focus on reading instead of the technology, while NOOK Simple Touch GlowLight is the first product to hit the market that is perfect for both outdoor and bedtime reading, with a built-in reading light," said Jamie Iannone, the president of digital products at Barnes & Noble.

"We're excited to give UK customers the opportunity to enjoy both of these devices, plus one of the world's largest digital bookstores with more than 2.5 million books, newspapers and magazines."

NOOK eReaders can be pre-ordered online from today (Wednesday, September 26) at Nook.co.uk and in select stores.

From early October, customers will be able to purchase the products in more than 1,600 high street retailers including John Lewis, Argos, Dixons and Waitrose, and Britain's leading bookshops, Blackwell's, Foyles and Sainsbury's, where it will be the exclusive eReader on offer.

The real challenge for Barnes & Noble will be getting its NOOK branding into the minds of UK consumers, particularly as Amazon's Kindle has become almost synonymous with eReader devices.

However, the firm intends to launch a major marketing campaign to promote its NOOK brand and has also partnered with the leading retailers to run in-store branding campaigns around the launch.

Barnes & Noble has also today announced two new colour screen tablets coming to the UK in November.

The 7-inch NOOK HD will compete with the Amazon Kindle Fire HD and Google Nexus 7, while the cheap 9-inch NOOK HD+ will go head-to-head with Apple's iPad.

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