Barnes & Noble on Tuesday announced a new Nook eReader, with a 6-inch touchscreen and a two-month long battery life.
Calling it the "simple touch reader," users control the device, open books, turn pages, search for authors and, yes, buy e-books, all by tapping and swiping on the device's E Ink Pearl display.
The new Nook is selling for $139, the same price as the older Wi-Fi Nook model it replaces, and is available for pre-order at nook.com and in Barnes & Noble bookstores.
The touchscreen Nook will hit Barnes & Noble shelves by about June 10, the company said in a statement.
The company said the new gadget will feature 50% better contrast with its updated screen, weigh in at 7.48 ounces and be about as thick as a No. 2 pencil. It's also 6.5 inches tall and 5 inches wide, allowing it to fit into many pants or jacket pockets.
The new Nook can store about 1,000 books and has an SD card slot for expanded memory. A concave back makes the device easy to hold "even with just one hand, and for extended periods of time," Barnes & Noble said.
The device only connects to the Internet via Wi-Fi -- no 3G option as of yet -- and, if the Wi-Fi is left off, the new Nook can operate for two months before needing to be charged again, which Barnes & Noble says is the best battery life of any eReader on the market.
The new Wi-Fi only Nook is phasing out the original black-and-white screen Nook eReader, which was offered in both Wi-Fi only or Wi-FI/3G models.
The older models, which Barnes & Noble now calls the Nook 1st Edition, were dropped in price on Tuesday to $119 for Wi-Fi only and $169 for Wi-Fi/3G. Barnes & Noble has stopped production of the older units, so once the 1st Edition is sold out, that's it.
Nook eReaders, including the 1st Edition model and the Nook Color tablet, make up "more than 25 percent of the digital book market -- just 18 months after launching Nook 1st Edition," the company said.
The leader in the U.S. eReader market is the Amazon Kindle, while the Sony Reader and Kobo eReader trail behind the Nook, according to market estimates (none of the respective companies have released official sales figures for their devices).
Sony has a touchscreen version of its Reader available, and on Monday, Kobo announced a $129.99 touchscreen model for its eReader, which also features a 6-inch E Ink Pearl display.
Currently, Amazon doesn't offer a touchscreen version of its Kindle, or a Kindle tablet, though both are rumored to be in the works.
Like the Kobo eReader with its Reading Life app, Barnes & Noble is looking to take eReading into the social media space with the addition of its Nook Friends social network to the new Nook.
Barnes & Noble previously announced Nook Friends for its Nook Color tablet, and now both of the newer Nooks have the social network built-in.
The eReading social network allows Nook owners to "friend" each other and recommend books to each other, see what their friends have read and what they've thought of those books, and share favorite quotes.
Nook Friends can be integrated with Twitter and Facebook so "right from their current book, customers can tweet the title they're reading, post on their Facebook wall and see what their Nook Friends "like" on Facebook," Barnes & Noble said.
The bookseller also said that in "the next few weeks" it will launch a new website, mynook.com, "where customers can get recommendations from Barnes & Noble expert booksellers and Nook Friends, access their Nook Library, and manage their device."
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-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Photo: A new Nook eReader is held up during a Barnes & Noble news conference announcing the device Tuesday in New York. Credit: Mary Altaffer / Associated Press