B&N is Leaving the Nook Tablet Business, But Will Continue to Make Nook eReaders

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Barnes and Noble announced some changes moving forward with the Nook brand today with the release of their fourth-quarter and full-year earnings report. Losses were greater than expected, so B&N is making some changes.

Barnes and Noble has decided to stop making new Nook tablets, and instead will focus on partnering with other manufactures to get the Nook brand and apps preloaded onto 3rd party devices, like they announced with E Fun and Nabi tablets yesterday.

B&N plans to continue selling the Nook HD and Nook HD+ through the holiday season, but they aren’t going to make any new tablet devices because they feel there are too many risks associated with manufacturing them. B&N had great success with their first tablet, the Nook Color, because they were one of the first companies to bring a 7-inch reading-focused Android tablet to the market, but after that all the other manufactures caught up and started releasing better tablets at lower prices, ones that weren’t locked into B&N’s ecosystem.

With all the competition in the Android tablet field, B&N really doesn’t stand much of a chance anymore, so doing away with the tablet division is a logical step to help save the company from further losses.

While it’s disappointing to see Nook tablets going extinct, at least B&N still plans to make Nook reading devices like the Nook Simple Touch and GlowLight Nook.

Here’s the key info from the press release:

The company plans to significantly reduce losses in the NOOK segment by limiting risks associated with manufacturing. Going forward, the company intends to continue to design eReading devices and reading platforms, while creating a partnership model for manufacturing in the competitive color tablet market. Thus, the widely popular lines of Simple Touch and Glowlight products will continue to be developed in house, and the company’s tablet line will be co-branded with yet to be announced third party manufacturers of consumer electronics products. At the same time, the company intends to continue to build its digital catalog, adding thousands of eBooks every week, and launching new NOOK Apps.

William Lynch, B&N’s CEO, goes on to say that they plan to continue to innovate in the single purpose black-and-white eReader category. It has been over 1 year since the GlowLight Nook Touch was released, so B&N is already overdue for a new model; it will be interesting to see what they bring to the table with the next Nook reading device.

22 Responses to “B&N is Leaving the Nook Tablet Business, But Will Continue to Make Nook eReaders”

  1. Well, while it’s sad news for the tablet world, I’m heartened by the possibility of B&N innovating in the E-ink world. I’ve used NST and Nook Glow since they came out but have been disappointed by the lack of upgrades and feature improvements as I watch other companies like Amazon up the ante.

    • I’m hoping B&N releases an awesome Nook this fall. You’re right, they’ve been one of the biggest innovators in the field of ebook readers going back to the original Nook with the LCD screen below the E Ink screen, and they were the first to release an E Ink ereader with a frontlight. It’s a pity they’ve not managed to capitalize more on that.

      • Not only the lcd screen and the frontlight. With Nook Simple Touch they were also the first to bring to the public the as-few-buttons-as-possible concept. Kobo touch and Kindle touch actually got released couple of months later. And the partial refresh appeared first in the Nook Simple Touch as well.

  2. P.S. It was B&N that innovated the e-ink reader to what it is today…touch screen, minimal keys, thin and ergonomic, frontlight. If they can focus their efforts on the “next-gen” e-ink reader, that would be awesome. Color perhaps? Better (“natural color”) lighting? In some ways they have to catch up to higher screen resolution and capacative screens like the Kindle Paperwhite. Here’s an idea: how about built in support for both epubs AND kindle file formats without having to root it? I’d buy it in a heartbeat.

  3. And they all say that Tablets are the future and that e-readers will probably disappear. Of course this does not tell us for certain of what to expect in the future but it is interesting to notice that a tablet business disappears and an e-reader business outlives it.

  4. I am sad about this. I loved their tablets but it is expensive to manufacture their own tablets so I can see why they would have made this decision. I am happy to hear they are continuing their e-ink readers. While I do love my color tablet, it is easier to read on my e-ink reader when I want to do a marathon reading session. B&N’s retail business is actually doing fairly well so if this keeps their stores in business, I’m all for it.

  5. Its probably a “back to basics” approach. Their business model is under attack from Amazon and they are perhaps the last brick-and-mortar large bookseller out there. They suffer the same problem as Best Buy…everyone loves to go in the store and look around, but many savvy buyers turn to the internet for their purchases, especially if it saves them a few dollars and they are willing to wait.

    To invest heavily in technology where they don’t get the return on the investment makes little sense…way too much competition in android tablet land. As far as innovation goes, I am compelled to point out that Sony had E-ink e-readers with touchscreens and front lights before B&N…although B&N was the first to pull it off in a superior way.

    I wish them success in the book business, no matter what form that takes.

  6. What happens to NOOK tablet owners with all of their proprietary USB cables?

    • I think the Nook Color and Nook tablet can charge off a regular micro USB connector, but Nook HD and HD+ owners might want to stock up because they definitely use proprietary connectors.

  7. To piggyback on what Nathan just said: QVC was selling the Nook HD+ this past weekend. They were selling it for $169.00 and the package came with TWO of the proprietary AC charger connectors. This news helps to explain that.

  8. I think I heard airplanes will allow ereaders in the air but will continue to ask phones, tablets and laptops be turned off. That may mean the ereader lives on….

  9. Nathan,
    Can the regular Nook Color Charger be used on the HD+ with the dedicated 30-pin cord? And will any phone car-charger work as long as I use the the HD+ cord 30-pin?
    thanks! 🙂

    • You mean the wall plug part? I switch and interchange those all the time with different gadgets and don’t have any problems. Of course if you read the manual it will say to only use the charger provided, but I’ve yet to have any problems.

      • Yes, wall part and they also have a car charger… I’ll get the car charger for a backup as it also comes with a 30-pin cord.
        Thank you for such great reviews and all the helps! 🙂

  10. This is sad news. I love my Nook HD+. What about technical support for the current devices in the future?

  11. This is not a surprise. B&N needs to get their act together with both the e-readers and digital content.

  12. I do not have a LCD tablet, but I have a rooted eInk Nook Glowlight and I happy with it. I might buy one day an LCD tablet to watch videos outdoors, but for now I am just reading outdoors and I am happy with my Nookie. 🙂

  13. I wonder if my older Apple pin connector will work too?

  14. This is the response I got to an email I sent BN:

    **We would like to inform that we are fully committed to NOOK®. We are not exiting the device business and do not plan to discontinue our tablet line. We are moving away from independently building our own tablets but intend to design co-branded tablets with partners that offer the same great NOOK content and NOOK service. With respect to our popular Simple Touch™ and Glowlight™ eReader lines, we plan to continue to design, innovate and launch new products. We will continue to offer all our millions of digital customers ongoing support, updates and innovations, as well as an amazing digital bookstore experience offering any digital book, magazine or newspaper, on any device.**

    I take all that to mean they’re going to contract out design & manufacturing of tablets to a 3rd party builder. I’m assuming that will be whomever submits the lowest bid but what that will mean for the quality of devices going forward is any bodies guess.

  15. Any signs yet of whether they’re going to release a new version of the eink readers this year?

  16. I still have the first 3g nook with e-ink and i love it ,I would love to see a new e-ink nook that has a 9in screen and light in it .My mom had the 9in hd and she hates it ,she cant go out side with it .Thats why e-ink is better