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Barnes & Noble's new Nook: A $249 tablet with e-reader bones

November 9, 2011 | 11:59 am

The new Nook tablet, which retails for $249, is available for pre-order
On Monday, Barnes & Noble unveiled its new Nook at a news conference in New York. As was widely expected, there is now a Nook Tablet, pictured above. Look closely and you'll see that the demo version was loaded with Netflix, Parents magazine, games, Hulu and the bestselling Steve Jobs biography.

The new Nook Tablet, which retails for $249, is available for pre-order and should begin shipping next week, well in advance of the holiday shopping season. In addition to Barnes & Noble stores, it will be available at major retailers, including Target, Staples, Wal-Mart and Office Max. You may find it in the aisle near the Kindles -- on Tuesday, Amazon announced that its Kindle will be found for sale at 16,000 brick-and-mortar stores, including some of those same retailers, beginning Nov. 15.

Bargain hunters may be drawn to Amazon's Kindle Fire tablet, which is $199. But our Technology blog wrote that "for the extra $50, the Nook Tablet offers beefier specs than the Kindle Fire that, Chief Executive William Lynch argued in unveiling the new Barnes & Noble device, will add up to a faster, smoother experience when reading books, playing games or watching movies." The Technology blog detailed those specs, then went on to say: 

Unlike the Kindle Fire, Barnes & Noble's Nook Tablet and Nook Color have no built-in storefront for buying movies and music.

Lynch said that while Amazon sells those items, Barnes & Noble is focused on selling digital reading content, while letting others handle the music, TV show and film side of things -- such as Netflix, Hulu and Pandora which all come pre-installed on the Nook Tablet.

"The Kindle Fire is a vending machine for Amazon services, they've said it themselves," he said at the company's flagship store in New York's Union Square during the Nook Tablet reveal. "In one word, we're more open" in allowing users to get their music and video content from wherever they want.

Barnes & Noble was late into the e-reader game, and its entry was full of stumbles -- many shipments of its first Nook failed to arrive in time for Christmas, as promised. Since then, it seems to have gotten its e-reader footing, getting a clearer picture of what its customers want when it comes to reading e-books and getting it into their hands, without delay.

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-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: The new Nook tablet is demonstrated Monday at the Union Square Barnes & Noble store in New York. Credit: Shannon Stapleton / Reuters

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