Barnes & Noble Intros Small, Simple Touchscreen E-Reader

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Barnes & Noble has rolled out a new black-and-white e-book reader to its “Nook” line. The $139 device touts the longest battery life of any e-book reader on the market—up to two months—and measures five inches wide by 6.5 inches long, with a weight of just five ounces.

The new Nook features a six-inch electronic-ink screen similar to the one found in other standard-size e-book readers on the market, but the Nook’s touchscreen interface and lack of buttons adorning the device make it significantly more pocketable than previous Nook readers and Amazon’s Kindle reader. Barnes & Noble says the new screen provides for 50% greater contrast than previous the previous black-and-white Nook reader, too.

The new Nook holds up to 1,000 books, a built-in Wi-Fi connection, and access to Barnes & Noble’s online bookstore containing over two million books, magazines and newspapers for download.

The new Nook is available for pre-order today at $139 and will begin shipping around June 10th. It’ll also be available in Barnes & Noble, Best Buy, Walmart and Staples retail stores in June.

It certainly looks intriguing—Barnes & Noble is touting it as “the most intuitive, easy-to-use eReader for everyone” and the company has done a good job in the past with its book-lending features and social sharing options. We’ll see how everything shakes out once we get our hands on a review unit.

And it’ll be interesting to see how Amazon responds to this. When the original Nook Wi-Fi was announced with a $149 starting price and the Nook 3G dropped to $199, it took Amazon mere hours to cut the starting price of the 3G-enabled Kindle to $189 and a little over a month to roll out a Wi-Fi Kindle priced at $139.

It’d take Amazon a bit longer to cobble together a redesigned all-touchscreen e-reader, of course, assuming the Wi-Fi Kindle simply entailed swapping out the 3G chip for a Wi-Fi chip with few additional core design changes.

It’s also widely believed that Amazon has a pair of Android tablets in the works so maybe we’ll hear about them sooner rather than later. This new Nook is meant to be a simple device, though, and it’ll likely find a nice foothold in the sub-$150 connected e-reader market.

Barnes & Noble has dropped the price of its current-model Wi-Fi Nook to $119 and its 3G Nook to $169. Those devices will be available until they’re gone, and the new Nook will be a Wi-Fi only affair—no 3G version.

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