There are numerous e-readers around these days, some of them already sporting colored E-Ink displays even, but Amazon’s Kindle still remains the household name in that market. Once upon a time, however, the Kindle shared that prime spot with Barnes & Noble’s NOOK. The latter has long faded into the background but it isn’t down for the count just yet. According to the latest word, old B&N is jumping back into the scene, this time with a NOOK tablet made by an unexpected new partner.
As with Amazon’s Kindle and Fire devices, B&N’s NOOK covers two kinds of reading gadgets. The plain old NOOKs are straightforward and simple ebook readers with e-paper displays. There are, however, also NOOK Tablets that are technically Android tablets with specialized UI designed around reading.
It’s not yet 100% clear but it’s most likely that the new device teased to be coming next week is one of the latter, especially since it was designed with Lenovo. The latter does have some experience with E Ink screens, as seen on some of its rather eccentric Yoga convertible laptops. The company, however, is more familiar with making cheap Android tablets than it is with designing E Ink readers.
This news, which was shared with The Verge, is definitely unexpected considering the state of the company’s hardware products. The last Nook Tablet was launched back in 2018 and its latest-gen NOOK GlowLight Plus e-reader has remained out of stock since last year. According to B&N senior director for Nook Susan McCulloch, however, it is more a result of “exceptionally strong sales” rather than the company easing out of the business.
It will also be interesting to see what Lenovo will bring to the table. The company’s Android tablets are often overlooked but do offer interesting features, especially when paired with accessories that could turn the slate into an Alexa smart home hub, for example. Other than a general “next week”, no date for Barnes & Noble’s surprise announcement has been revealed yet.