Barnes & Noble has officially announced its plans to drop the price of the company's Nook Simple Touch with Glowlight eBook reader. The move, which goes into effect right now, puts the device at a cool $99 (£63) – below that of competing offerings from Amazon and Kobo.
While that's a boon for consumers who are looking for a fairly inexpensive way to read their electronic novels – in the dark, especially – it does give rise to the question of why, exactly, Barnes & Noble has decided to play a little hardball in the eBook reader market.
Just to put the Nook Simple Touch with Glowlight into perspective, this is actually the device's second price drop since it launched in April of last year. Barnes & Noble slashed the device's original price of $139 (£89) down to $119 (£76) last September, matching that of Amazon's Kindle Paperwhite.
Most signs point to the fact that Barnes & Noble might be looking to clear out a bit of inventory in advance of a Nook Simple Touch with Glowlight refresh – and we do hope they shorten the name of a future iteration of the device, if nothing else.
However, Barnes & Noble isn't exactly charging forward into the future of handheld devices with a smile on its face. The company announced late last month that it was no longer interested in manufacturing its own Nook tablets but, rather, would prefer to create co-branded tablets with a manufacturing partner.
While the announcement doesn't affect Barnes & Noble's treatment of its eBook readers – a separate product line from its Nook tablets, and one that the company plans to continue manufacturing itself – it does make you question whether a similar fate is ultimately in store for Barnes & Nobles handheld devices as a whole.
As Venturebeat notes, recent news from E-Ink Holdings – a leading provider of eBook reader screens for both Amazon and Barnes & Noble – paints a grim picture of the overall market. It has seen a 46 per cent drop in annual sales.
While the company maintains that a switch in the quarter when eBook readers are usually updated was a key reason for its dreadful fiscals, it's likely difficult for them to watch fully-fledged tablets (admittedly, worse for reading novels on than an eBook reader) start to fall closer and closer to the price range of some of the market's top eBook readers.
For those that don't really want to carry around multiple tablet-shaped devices, this presents potential purchasers with a bit of a shopping dilemma. And plenty suspect that it's the eBook reader that will ultimately give out.