New Nook Rumored for Springtime

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Keith Wagstaff / TIME

Well here’s an interesting tidbit from the New York Times‘ latest feature on Barnes & Noble: A new Nook is in development, and should be released this spring.

The Times‘ story, which cites unnamed executives, elaborated no further on this “fifth e-reading device.” Nor did a Barnes & Noble spokeswoman when asked for comment by the Times, so we’re left to speculate whether this new Nook is an E-Ink device, like Barnes & Noble’s Simple Touch reader, or a tablet.

(WATCH: Nook Tablet or Kindle Fire?)

CNet’s David Carnoy has a few good guesses on what the next Nook will be like, including a 10-inch tablet, a sub-$50 e-reader, or some kind of color E-Ink device using Mirasol display technology. I think a 10-inch Nook seems the most likely, given the rumors that Amazon is working on its own large-screen tablet for the first half of 2012. (Asked about this possibility by Engadget last fall, Amazon Kindle Vice President Russ Grandinetti said “stay tuned.”)

Barnes & Noble and Amazon have both made big contributions to soaring e-reader and tablet sales. Among Android tablets, the Nook Tablet, Nook Color and Kindle Fire accounted for 40% of sales, Strategy Analytics’ Peter King told Laptop Magazine. Although these tablets aren’t as feature-packed as competing devices — tablets from Barnes & Noble and Amazon don’t have cameras, for example — their low prices, simple interfaces and retail exposure have helped them gain mainstream success. The tablet wars will get pretty interesting if Amazon and Barnes & Noble go after the iPad with 10-inch tablets this year.

MORE: Barnes & Noble Exploring Options for Nook Business