Barnes & Noble Won’t be Launching a New Tablet This Year

Here's a story300887-hands-on-barnes-noble-nook-hd[1] I missed when it appeared a few weeks ago. Barnes & Noble has frequently been flip-flopping on their future plans over the past year, so it should come as no surprise that they have changed their minds again. According to the NYTimes and the WSJ (and confirmed by an inside source) B&N currently has no plans to release a tablet this holiday season:

Mr. Huseby said there were no plans for Barnes & Noble to release a new color tablet by the end of the year. “That does not mean we won’t do so in the future,” he said. “We’re being more measured in terms of how we pace the production of devices.”

B&N's previous plan had included at least one new device a new tablet launch this Fall, and the various leaks (a for Dummies book, a BT keyboard, and new cases) supported the idea that it would be a tablet. I even had sources telling me that it would happen last month, so I have to say that I am rather surprised at this about face.

On the other hand, B&N has changed their minds a lot this year. They had also previously announced  plans to get out of tablet development and instead license a design from some third party. That plan was announced in June and  went by the wayside in late August.

Now, 3 months later, B&N has changed their mind again.

B&N's new tablet plans now revolve around selling their current tablets, the Nook HD and Nook HD+, at budget prices. Those tablets got a price cut around the time that the new Nook Glow launched.

You can find the tablets with prices starting at $129 and $149.

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The Nook HD is a 7" tablet with a 1440 x 900 resolution screen (the highest of any 7" tablets when it launched). It's running a proprietary version of Android on a 1.3 GHz dual-core CPU, and it ships with  8GB or more of Flash storage. The Nook HD+ is a 9" tablet with a 1920 x 1280 resolution screen. It too is running B&N's own proprietary version of Android on a 1.5 GHz dual-core CPU, and it ships with  16GB or more of Flash storage.

So should you get these tablets? Yes and no.

That is really not as good of a price for the Nook HD as you may think; the Hisense Sero 7 Pro also costs $129, and it is a very polished machine with a faster CPU, 2 cameras, NFC, and other features that the Nook HD lacks. I have a Sero 7 Pro and it is as good as the reviews suggest (my review is coming this weekend).

But the Nook HD+ at $149, now that is different matter. If I were sure B&N would be around this time next year I would get an HD+.  Considering the quality of the components it is a decent value.

I don't know of any large tablet in the price range which I can recommend. Sure, the HD+ only has a dual core CPU and it lacks cameras, but that's not a serious shortcoming. Few larger tablets in that price range have decent cameras or fast CPUs, so the Nook HD+ really doesn't have much competition. And of course none of larger tablets in the Nook HD+'s price range have a screen as good as the one on the HD+, which IMO should be a deciding factor.

About Nate Hoffelder (11394 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: "I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

23 Comments on Barnes & Noble Won’t be Launching a New Tablet This Year

  1. The only downside is the power connector on the Nook HD. It can get loose after a year of use, which is a bit troubling. Apart from that, its a nice little tablet.

    • That has happened to me with any tablet that I have owned that has a micro usb connector. Of course, depending on the design of the charger, I can simply replace the cable at a cost of around $6.

  2. Barnes & Noble more than likely won’t be around in the future for too much longer especially if they have another dismal holiday sales season which they probably will. Been in a B&N store lately? Personally I find the Kindles to be much more superior products and I love the Kindle Store.

    • Business seemed brisk at the Rockville, MD store that I was in on Sunday.

    • Don’t confuse B&N and NOOK Media. Although B&N holds most of the stock in NOOK Media, and continues to report NOOK Media in the B&N financial reports, the two businesses are financially separate.

      NOOK Media is certainly facing challenges. B&N, the bookstore company, continues to be profitable (in a mature-market sort of way). If NOOK Media goes under, B&N will simply write off their investment and continue on.

      • Except B&N’s future plans (at one point) included shrinking for the next decade. That does not inspire confidence.

        But I will note that that plan was under Lynch, and he is now gone.

        • My take on it is, “of course they’re planning to shrink.” The business of book-selling is in secular decline, and brick-and-mortar stores selling most anything that can be shipped look like they’re headed that way, too. B&N sees which way the wind is blowing.

          The idea is pretty simple: close the bookstores that aren’t profitable and aren’t going to get better. There will still be new bookstores, but not as many as the number that get closed. It’s a slowly shrinking business, and in order to stay profitable, B&N intends to slowly shrink with it. Unless/until things change or they come up with a better plan.

          None of which really relates to NOOK Media, which is the business that’s of interest here on The Digital Reader.

          • A counterpoint would be that giving up on geographic market share is not the way to achieve profitability.B&N can’t sell to people in markets they don’t have a store.

            And if the business of bookselling is in decline then why are so many indies opening new stores?

  3. Oh how I love these articles. First off if anyone paid attention to BN’s last investors call, They clearly stated that they would release one nook this holiday season aka the Glowlight. BN has to clear the tablet inventory left by their former CEO who put their company in the rut they are in now before anyone even talks about new tablets, and the new guys they hired are in place to fix what William Lynch screwed up, building to many devices last year and stores not being able to sell them down aka to much inventory. New devices may come next year knowing they got this guy from Motorola and the other guy from Zinio running things. A new reader was due and a tablet can come at another date. Focus on their strong point. “BOOKS” as for some of the comments about BN not being around soon due to foot traffic. Every store I been to in Los Angeles is packed with customers. Maybe those with no traffic are the ones they are closing to save money. Just saying otherwise why would they be spending money on holiday commercials. They one I saw maybe 5 times on television lastnight.

  4. Exactly now think about it, They released the tablet November of last year the last reader they released was in the spring of last year. A new reader was due. I read William Lynch once was CEO of HSN or one of those home shopping networks. And by building way to many devices the company could not sell down the volume so the next best thing to do is put them on sale and clear out all inventory before even thinking about a new tablet. I feel that is why he stepped down. He screwed them over and couldn’t clean up his mess.

  5. They have started showing their holiday commercial on television already .

  6. Does this mean we’ll get an OS update to the HD & HD+?

    • Maybe. I’m not sure that Nook Media still has the development staff who can do the work.

      If they did then I would think that they would have released an update for the Nook tablet which enabled sideloading of apps. But that hasn’t happened.

  7. It may be a one-off, but just possibly the Nook team-up with Samsung for Galaxy Kids tablet could be the shape of things to come.

    Samsung’s ebook project has been in beta since forever. What better way to get the best of both world’s for both companies than to have Nook as the default digital server for future Samsung products? the Nook international roll-out, currently limited to MS, would reach a far wider audience, securing the future of Nook and taking the headache out of supply for both MS and Samsung.

    Such a move could put Nook back in the game at a serious level for markets outside the US, and boost their US presence too.

    • I doubt the Samsung deal is actually an exclusive, no matter what B&N says. And B&N already has similar deals with other tablet makers, only the deals weren’t announced with any fanfare because B&N didn’t need to distract attention from a bad quarterly report.

      “Samsung’s ebook project has been in beta since forever. ”

      No, it simply hasn’t expanded to very many markets yet.

      “What better way to get the best of both world’s for both companies than to have Nook as the default digital server for future Samsung products?”

      Anything else would be better; the Nook Android app isn’t very good (it takes 3 seconds to wake up and reopen an ebook). And this deal only applies to the US/UK (the app cannot be registered in any other country) so it doesn’t help B&N’s need for international expansion.

      • The question here is who is paying whom.
        And how much.
        Could go both ways but I suspect that, unlike Microsoft, Samsung isn’t paying much if anything.

        • B&N probably paid Samsung; there’s no reason for Samsung to pay to add the Nook app as an exclusive.

          And more importantly why the bleep would Samsung care if they have the Nook app? They could add Google Play Books and call it good.

  8. Hey Nate –

    What happened to the Sero Pro review? I bought one of them 2 weeks ago and I am impressed. I was going to buy 2 for my kids as well but I can’t seem to find them in my local Wal-Mart. Online I saw that the price has gone back up to $149 as well, which may mean that the units started to sell out?

    I noticed today that you said you were going to post the review of the <100 HP android, so just wondered about the Sero Pro.

    • I got one about a month ago, yes. I keep intending to get to the review but I have never managed to have both the time and the energy to write it. I have an excess of one or the other, but not both.

      • Understood. I assume the same can be said for the <100 HP device. Looking forward to hearing about both at some point. Keep up the good work!

        • TBH there’s a certain cost/benefit analysis of page views vs effort here.

          Everyone has already reviewed the Sero 7 Pro, and that lessens its value to me. The other tablets, OTOH, haven’t been reviewed by anyone. They might draw less attention but it’s going to be attention which I won’t have to share.

          The Sero 7 Pro really is as good as everyone says – if not for the battery life issues. My unit has the classic budget tablet problem of draining the battery overnight.

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