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Updated: Nook Glow Now on Sale for $120

Barnes & Noble made a misstep earlier this year when they released the Nook Glow ereader with a front light without also upgrading the screen. This put them at a technical disadvantage when compared to the Kindle Paperwhite and the Kobo Glo, and since B&N won’t be ready to release a new ereader until next spring it looks like they’ve responded in the one way they could.

Tomorrow’s Target ad has leaked and it is showing the Nook Glow for $120. Update: The new price is already live on the Walnart website.

That’s the same price as the ad-supported Kindle Paperwhite, suggesting that this is a response to Amazon’s newest ereader. Fast turnaround, that, considering we only learned of the price a little under a month ago.

I haven’t gotten my hands on one of the new retail boxes for the Nook Glow, but I can already guess where that discount came from. I bet this cheaper Nook Glow is missing the power supply. That would be the easy and obvious way for B&N to save money.

So do you think this is enough to make the Nook Glow competitive against the Kindle Paperwhite? I don’t.

I am not usually a screen fetishist, but in the case of comparing the Nook Glow and the Kindle Paperwhite I have to come down on the side of the KPW. It’s the software, dummy.

I largely thought that the iriver Story HD, the first ereader to get the HD E-ink screen, wasn’t worth it because the software running on the Kindle and on the Nook was good enough to mask the difference. This time around the KPW will have software as good or better than the Nook Glow (Amazon’s been working on it for 6 years now) so the Nook Glow won’t have any advantage.

Of course, that might not have any effect on sales. As one reader put it:

I know when I talk to people, Amazon customers shop there because they love Amazon, their service and their customer service. When I talk to people about Barnes and Nobles, half of them shop there like they are doing them a favor. They want to keep them in business and act as if Barnes and Noble is some small mom and pop shop.

Hey, if B&N survives thanks to pity sales, who are we to criticize?


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cookie September 29, 2012 um 3:51 pm

They need to be bought by Walmart

flyingtoastr September 29, 2012 um 4:23 pm

So you’re calling the software on a device that hasn’t even shipped (and is far behind the ship date) better based on what? Your godly intuition?

Just admit it for once. You’re a fan of Amazon and have a major dislike of BN.

Nate Hoffelder September 29, 2012 um 4:31 pm

I said the software was "as good or better", and when it comes to the subtle tricks of making an image look good I am probably right.

Mike Cane September 29, 2012 um 4:25 pm

If B&N leaves out the AC adapter, that’s a dick move.

Tyler September 29, 2012 um 7:49 pm

I can’t see them doing that since these are going to be the same units that have been sitting on shelves unsold for months.

Nate Hoffelder September 29, 2012 um 8:01 pm

You’re probably right – unless B&N had those other units returned.

BruceMcF September 30, 2012 um 12:34 pm

The odds of B&N including the charger with the Nook HD, a whole new model, when Amazon opened the door by leaving the charger out of their Fire HD, and then leaving the charger out when they announce a price cut of the Nook Glowlight … seem awfully low.

flyingtoastr September 30, 2012 um 5:02 pm

All NSTGL’s still have their AC adapters in the box.

yuzutea September 29, 2012 um 6:42 pm

I think people support B&N because they want there to be physical bookstores. However, I think supporting the Nook will simply contribute to their decline. If B&Ns just become filled with toys, stationary, a couple of books (mostly bestsellers and gift books), and of course, Nooks and the cafe, I’m not sure that’s what they wanted to preserve.

I wonder how much longer B&N can continue their price war with Amazon, however.

Richard Adin September 30, 2012 um 6:17 am

It strikes me that Google should buy B&N and use the stores as a combination ebook showroom and a place where people can buy/get help with Google android devices.

Todd Panek September 30, 2012 um 9:08 am

I just checked B&N’s website. The "INCREDIBLE NEW PRICE" is there as well as a note "(No ads. Power adapter included.)

Isles September 30, 2012 um 11:20 am

Yes, I just got a B&N ad email that boldly proclaims "No ads. Power adapter included."

They are just really slashing the price. I wonder if they are harming profits this way.

fjtorres September 30, 2012 um 3:15 pm

No ads?
Really? They cleaned up the home page of their self-serving book promos?
Or is it still: "no ads for anybody but our store"?

Lyman September 30, 2012 um 3:21 pm

"… They are just really slashing the price. I wonder if they are harming profits this way. …"

Probably not.

It is just a light. The screen , software, CPU (TI OMAP 3 800MHz) , RAM , etc. are all still the same "over a year old" Nook Simple Touch. For example, Kobo and Amazon are going to buy dramatically fewer of those screens this year. Demand for that screen , CPU , etc are dropping, so the prices are dropping too. Perhaps not the same profit dollar amount, but percentage wise the profit is still probably pretty close to the rest of the Nook line-up.

That 40% mark-up for just for a light was a temporary, unsustainable bubble. They probably knew that when they went to market at that price.

The Kindle Paperwhite with a better screen are selling at the $120 price point. The Kobo Glo at $129 is even $10 less than the old Glowlight price point. There are no Glowlight profits unless they actually sell a device. They could ask for $139, but sales would likely dramatically drop off. Even the Kindle 7″ version got a spec bump and it is $159.

This may/may not be a misstep for Nook. Overall, they are taking a risky step with aggressively pricing the 9″ tablets. Spreading the product launches out a bit will help them manage complexity and risk better. They will need to significantly leapfrog Paperwhite and Glo somehow though in the Spring. Perhaps a jump to color e-ink like display or even just to 256 (2^8) or 512 (2^9) shades of gray. The e-ink HD screen is an improvement in pixel density, but not by very much in terms of spectrum coverage. Color may be a "lost cause" when it comes to e-readers, but grayscale can play a role in better antialiasing fonts as well as better "black and white" pictures.

fjtorres September 30, 2012 um 8:25 pm

The problem with B&N doing their eink refreshes in the spring is that the dedicated-reader business is showing a strong seasonality peaking in the 4th quarter. At this point they are the only name brand vendor not refreshing in the fall. (Even Sony gets it.)
Getting the glo-light out in spring simply gave their competitors 6 months to leapfrog *them* and exploit the holiday season to best advantage.
As is, B&N gets to crow about having the latest and greatest during the *slow* season and has to resort to price cuts (twice in the last two years) during the prime selling season. (And the price cuts didn’t much help the STR last year.)

Nate Hoffelder September 30, 2012 um 8:42 pm

I was told they think the summer boost is better. But given that even Kobo has shifted to a fall launch, I would bet that B&N is wrong.

fjtorres October 1, 2012 um 6:37 am

On bets like those rest the fate of companies. 🙂
"Summer boost" sounds… interesting… coming from a company in the book business. Just last week I ran into this:
For decades the publishing business has organized their schedules around the idea that people read less and buy less during the summer. And B&N expects a summer boost for their Nooks? Ohhh-kaaay….
Me, I think that peddling "new and improved" just when people are thinking of xmas shopping is more effective than "old and slightly cheaper".
But hey, they’re ones betting the company…

Nate Hoffelder October 1, 2012 um 7:59 am

I too wonder if Bill Lynch was blowing smoke but frankly I don’t know.

Peter October 1, 2012 um 1:28 pm

If everyone else has moved to fall launches than that is the point.

As they say in investing- a crowded trade is usually a bad trade.

Mother’s day is the deadline for nook launches. That is the second biggest sales period of the year for ereaders and Barnes and Noble positioned themselves to take advantage of that niche.

fjtorres October 1, 2012 um 1:44 pm

Counter-programming is a valid tactic but it doesn’t always yield success; sometimes it’s just a quick way to suicide.
Sometimes the lemmings *are* right. 😉

Nate Hoffelder October 1, 2012 um 1:47 pm

I think the lemmings are right in at least this case if only because B&N missed their chance to use the higher resolution screen. That’s going to hurt.

Peter October 1, 2012 um 6:03 pm

I think the "wait for the best components" strategy works for Amazon- but the *lemmings* are dead wrong.

The problem for the lemmings is that a tie goes to Amazon. Everyone else must differentiate a little bit and find a way they can appeal to customers willing to make a compromise.

Lyman hits it on the head- not only would the new screens delay the nook, they would also be MORE EXPENSIVE than the old screens. Barnes and Noble wouldn’t be able to price match Amazon without ads.

Barnes and Noble can get away with not having the most nifty screen because "good enough is best". Since a lot of stores aren’t carrying the Kindle or the Kobo, many potential customer’s won’t be able see (literally) the benefit of the new screens.

Customer’s WILL see the price tag.

I’m not saying this will shoot Barnes and Noble to the number one position. But the alternative- offering the EXACT same thing Amazon offers only a little more expensive- would have blown it for them.

Fbone October 1, 2012 um 2:13 pm

Late Spring has Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Graduations, weddings and vacation goers – all potential book/device customers. Add in few other releases from competitors B&N may think it will work.

My guess was that the product was ready and they just released it then instead of waiting 5 months for the Fall season when they knew other devices would be announced.

fjtorres October 1, 2012 um 2:37 pm

As Nate said, waiting five months would have brought them into the much *bigger* Xmas sales season with a more competitive product.
(Plus it would have bought them five months to fix the screen durability issue.)
At this point, the only reason to buy a Nook Glo is if you are already pre-committed to buying a B&N reader.
Frankly, if I was a Kobo exec, I’d be rushing to get B&N DRM compatibility into the next Kobo software update to poach as many B&N customers as possible come the holiday sales season.

Fbone October 1, 2012 um 5:39 pm

Samheer on MR posted that he would look into it. No promises, of course, but Kobo is using the latest Adobe software that supports B&N DRM according to him. He seemed a little surprised it wasn’t already working. Or maybe it is and no one knows yet.

Then again it may be a "corporate" decision and his dept was purposely kept out of the loop.

fjtorres October 1, 2012 um 5:44 pm

I saw that.
He seemed genuinely interested in the poaching possibilities, too. 😀

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