Is B&N Going to Release a New GlowLight Nook Touch Soon?

Glowlight Nook Simple Touch

Unlike most companies that like to release new ereaders in the fall before the busy holiday shopping season, Barnes and Noble tends to release new E Ink Nooks in the spring. In fact the GlowLight Nook Touch was officially announced exactly one year and one week ago from tomorrow.

But unlike last year, there are no rumors going around about B&N releasing a new Nook anytime soon. Could it be that Barnes and Noble decided not to release a new Nook this year? After all, B&N’s Nook business is not doing very well, and hardware sales are especially low. Maybe they decided not to release an updated model this year since it’s not selling very well anyway. Or maybe they are going to wait until later in the year so the new model isn’t outdated by the time Christmas comes along, as was the problem last year.

Whatever Barnes and Noble’s plans are, the GlowLight Nook Touch is in dire need of an upgrade. First off, it needs to get the newer higher definition screens that are being used on the Kobo Glo and Kindle Paperwhite. The lighting system also needs to be improved because it is noticeably inferior to the Kindle and Kobo’s frontlights.

Another issue that B&N needs to tackle, and this goes back to the HD screen and frontlight, is the fact that the GlowLight Nook Touch’s contrast isn’t as good as the original Nook Touch—text is noticeably greyer on the GlowLight version and that was one of the biggest complaints from customers a year ago.

On the positive side, B&N can build off of the things that make the Nook Touch more desirable than the Kindle and Kobo ereaders. Like the Android operating system and the physical page turning buttons (most touchscreen ereaders forgo the page buttons but I really like them on the Nook).

The underlying Android operating system has always been a hidden gem on Nook ereaders. B&N should learn to take more advantage of this and add some new software features. Like adding a web browser to make web reading an option. They could add things like a note app, a calculator, calendar, games, and integrate more social reading features to really separate the Nook from the competition.

Normally I’d be 100% confident that B&N would release a new Nook. But this year after all their financial woes and severely lacking hardware sales have come to light, it’s hard to tell what they are going to do moving forward.

What do you think? Is B&N going to release a new GlowLight Nook Touch soon?

13 Responses to “Is B&N Going to Release a New GlowLight Nook Touch Soon?”

  1. In the investors’ conference call after the most recent earnings announcement, B&N said, “In terms of the device hardware investments going forward, we will adjust our approach to better mitigate our investment risk, while pursuing models that better position NOOK for success.”

    More tellingly, they said, “not investing as much in specific areas of hardware … That’s part of it. Although, you will see some innovation from us going forward.”

    They also repeatedly noted they had a lot of already-bought inventory which they would “be selling into fiscal year and through fiscal year ’14”.

    So, I’m guessing no new — or updated — models for a while.

    As for Android apps on the E-Ink NOOK models, I don’t think that’s of interest to B&N. I believe that the Simple Touch Reader is intended to be precisely that: a simple e-reader. One of the frequent complaints about the NOOK First Edition was that it tried to be more than an e-reader, with poor results.

    Parents buying e-readers for their kids often intend them to be an incentive to read, not to mess around with other apps. A Web browser adds another worry for parents, because it opens an uncloseable portal to the adult-content world.

    B&N’s NOOK models — after the First Edition — are split into two camps: the E-Ink models that are purely e-book readers, and the color LCD models that are multi-function. Personally, I don’t see B&N changing that in the near future.

    Reading more tea leaves from the investors’ conference call, I think B&N might become less focused on the tablet side. They noted that “Q3 revenue and earnings shortfall across the company was almost entirely a function of our missing sales targets for our 2 new NOOK tablet devices” and that “bigger brands, larger technology brands have more resonance in that multifunction tablet market”. In other words, people looking to buy a tablet don’t even think about B&N. I saw a report recently that suggested that even the Microsoft Surface is outselling the NOOK Tablets.

    My personal guess: B&N is not going to develop any more tablet models. They’ve got enough units already in the warehouses to last them for a long time to come. Better to concentrate on NOOK apps for other companies’ devices.

    The non-glow Simple Touch Reader looks like a dead-end, too, given that B&N is giving them away as promotional incentives. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it replaced by an inexpensive color LCD e-reader. Nor would I be surprised to see it dropped entirely.

    That leaves the GlowLight, which was what this article was about. What will happen with the GL, I don’t have a clue. I’m guessing it won’t happen right away, though, because of current inventory.

    • Thanks for the insight, Doug. I agree completely. It would be nice to see B&N add some new features to the E Ink Nook, but I just don’t see it happening, although it would be a good way to bring in new buyers. They could always add parental controls like Amazon with the Kindle to limit access to the web and such, but again if B&N can’t directly make money off of it I don’t see them caring much, which is a shame but that’s been their modus operandi from the beginning. And like you said I don’t see them releasing new tablet models anytime soon given how poorly the last models have fared. That’s one of the reasons I keep the Nook HD+ around; it might be the last of its kind. That and the 3:2 ratio high resolution screen is really nice.

  2. I am the owner of a Nook STR and am generally very pleased with it. So, I actually like the B&N products. However, I think they are a dying breed. I don’t see B&N announcing any new hardware any time soon.

    What I would really like to see is B&N be the first major player to convert to a “standard” Adobe DRM thus opening up their devices to easily use content from multiple stores and allow others’ devices to buy content from B&N. Given their recent earnings reports, their current locked down model isn’t working too well. All of this could be done with out any new hardware.

    I see a couple of major issues for the dedicated (non-tablet) ebook reader market going forward. Consumers, especially technology consumers, are always looking for higher resolution or some other wiz-bang feature without looking at where they have come from. As an example, everybody wants a reader with a higher resolution screen and more even front light. (So would I) But, nobody is sitting back and considering things like the current models already have crisper text than most PRINTED books, especially paperbacks. Also, the last time I checked, there were no printed books available with any kind of built in lighting. So while the current readers are not perfect, they are better than physical books. Consumers want better resolution and more even lighting but most do not want to pay more for it. This puts the hardware manufactures in a bad spot because we always want more and we want to pay less. If the hardware manufactures could spend time working on driving down the cost of the current models while adding reasonable new features like more formatting options, they would likely be able to make more of an impact with the general public. But if they did that, those of us who have already taken the plunge into ereading will be complaining that they are not moving forward. So they are in a catch 22 situation.

    • “What I would really like to see is B&N be the first major player to convert to a “standard” Adobe DRM thus opening up their devices to easily use content from multiple stores and allow others’ devices to buy content from B&N.”

      Half of that equation is already in place. The Nook devices support “standard” Adobe DRM although you have to hook them up to a computer to authorize them, but once you do, you can sideload DRM’d content purchased from other vendors stores, checked out from the library, etc.

      The other half of that equation of being able to read B&N DRM’d books on other devices is a little more complicated and is unlikely to happen in the way you mean. Adobe added support for a password protected scheme to the “standard” supported by ADE 2.0, which theoretically means that you can open a B&N DRM’d epub in ADE 2.0. I’ve not tried it, but it’s supposedly possible. What’s missing is any vendor implementing the new ADE standard in an ereading device.

  3. Does anyone really care? B&N is tanking and every publisher of which I’m aware sees the handwriting on the wall. This is just another example of B&N trying to play “catch up” with Amazon.

    Somebody please just put B&N and the Nook out of their, and our, misery.

  4. Well, I for one care. May be just market forces, but I for one would be sad to see B&N tank just as I was sad when Borders closed. Amazon is a great source for books and stuff, but I like going into a B&N store, browsing, having coffee, working, etc. I personally think we’d all lose in general if all bookstores tanked. Amazon, by the way, is the one that was playing “catch up” with B&N, not the other way around. B&N led the way to our modern crop of e-readers with the Nook Simple Touch. First touch-screen e-reader and first front-lighted screen with the Nook ST Glowlight. B&N was the innovator driving the modern e-readers, not Amazon or Kobo. And yes, I would really love to see e-readers continue to develop (color, resolution, features).

    • It is very much like VHS vs. BetaMAX. It really did not matter that BataMAX was much better technology, VHS cornered enough of the market to become the “standard”. In the dedicated e-reader market, everything is a “Kindle” so everybody who wants an e-reader gets a Kindle. I show people my Nook and they say “Oh, is that your Kindle?”. Overcoming that is going to be nearly impossible. The only way to beat Amazon would be for all the other vendors to adopt a standard that would allow you to purchase books from anybody’s store (including Amazon). For instance, B&N should open their DRM so that other epub readers could use B&N content. Then the real killer would be to tweak the OS so that it would allow the side loading of Kindle for Android without rooting. Thus allowing a Non-amazon e-ink device to read Kindle books. An e-ink device that would allow the reader to read anybodies books, including Amazon’s might have a chance at breaking the Kindle strangle hold.

      • Ah, the old “BetaMax was better” argument.
        It wasn’t, you know.
        Oh, the recording technology was marginally “better” in producing slightly sharper images (250 lines vs 240) but as a *product* Beta started out with a 60 minute record time vs VHS’s 120 minutes, which made VHS “better” suited for distributing commercial movies and recording TV shows.

        “When Betamax was introduced in Japan and the United States in 1975, its Beta I speed of 1.5 ips offered a slightly higher horizontal resolution (250 lines vs 240 lines horizontal NTSC), lower video noise, and less luma/chroma crosstalk than VHS, and was later marketed as providing pictures superior to VHS’s playback. However the introduction of Beta II speed, 0.8 ips (two-hour mode), to compete with VHS’ two-hour Standard Play mode (1.3 ips) reduced Betamax’s horizontal resolution to 240 lines.[3] The extension of VHS to VHS HQ increased the apparent resolution to 250 lines so that overall a Betamax/VHS user could expect virtually identical luma resolution and chroma resolution (≈30 lines) wherein the actual picture performance depended on other factors including the condition and quality of the videotape and the specific video recorder machine model. For most consumers the difference as seen on the average television of the time was negligible.”

        As for generic Adobe DRM, at this point B&N adopting it would gain them nothing significant (ADEPT hardware market share runs in the single digits, most going to Kobo) and it opens up their walled garden ebook market share (15-20%, these days) to poaching by Kobo.

        More, in the US, right now ereader adoption is slowing down because the avid readers that most benefit from dedicated devices have already commited to one camp or another. For the near term, ebook market share growth is going to come from apps on cellphones, tablets, and PCs.

        Read the comment of the B&N execs in that context and you’ll see a big plus in their deal with Microsoft and a significant minus in their weakness in the Android space. They really do need to redirect their efforts.

        Ideally, what they need is to get Samsung to carry the Nook app on their phones and tablets.

  5. I do care as well. I have a Nook NST and find its crisp text display very nice compared to the Kobo and Kindle. I was hoping for an improved Glowlight because I like the Nook physical page turning buttons and don’t think I can live without them. If nothing else is coming up from B&N, I’m still hoping for a good discount on the Glowlight to buy one. At the very least, I hope that they will still improve their firmware/software on the NST to include some things such as reading statistics in the next update.

  6. I buy Kobo books for my GlowNook all the time, if they’re cheaper. Same goes for Sony’s ebooks. B&N’s “walled garden ebook market” isn’t really that walled when it comes to reading epub books on the Nook e-ink readers. However, the more difficult it is to read the cheapest ebook on any given reader, the faster people will strip DRM or move to another reader. I’ve been fortunate in that I own both a Nook and a Kindle. With Books on Board closing, I’m beginning to see the need to store ebooks on my computer.

    B&N isn’t really acting like a company that’s going to release a GlowNook2. What I really really want to see is a well-lighted Sony just because I borrow LOTS of books from my 5 libraries 😀

  7. I have one problem with the e-ink e-readers: I’ve been using a rooted Sony prs-t1, the original reader of course is installed, but I almost exclusively use CoolReader… It is a much better reader, but why doesn’t have a “dedicated” reader the best available reader sw installed??
    I totally agree with Nathan that a few nice gadget would sell those readers better, and what Doug says could be achieved using some kind of parental control…

  8. I just took back a Kobo glo. It was awful, kept locking up, among several other issues. A search on the net shows it has lots of problems, so i am buying a nook. Looking at reports of problems with the light, i am thinking i may settle on the normal simple touch model, unless they can tell me they have resolved it..

  9. I own a nook simple touch, works great, but I giving to a friend, waiting for a new glow light, but there is no news, the option are kindle or kobo