Barnes & Noble today unveiled a smaller, relatively inexpensive Nook e-reader.
Like the original Nook, the $139 "Simple Touch Reader" has a black-and-white screen for reading books. Unlike it, though, it's got a touch screen.
While that option starts nudging the e-reader closer to the tablet market, dominated at present by Apple's iPad, the new Nook doesn't have tablets' characteristic ability to run apps, something the company's Nook Color can handle. The Nook Color has a touch screen.
CEO William Lynch unveiled the new reader in New York today. For a blow-by-blow look, check CNET's live blog.
Customers can order the $139 device now, but it won't ship until June 10. Barnes & Noble also lowered the price of the original Nook to $119 and the 3G Nook to $169. Those original Nooks previously cost $149 and $199, respectively. In comparison, the top rival, Amazon's Kindle, starts at $139, or $114 if you're willing to see some advertising, and the Nook Color costs $249.
The new Nook is more compact than rivals and predecessors, with a 6-inch Pearl screen and no keyboard. The display's contrast is 50 percent better than the original Nook, the company said.
The device itself is 35 percent lighter and 15 percent thinner than original Nook, and it's got a contoured back to try to make it more easily gripped.
Among other features:
A non-removable battery that lasts up to two months.
Built-in Wi-Fi networking, but no 3G.
Six fonts with seven sizes each for a more customized look.
An 800MHz Texas Instruments OMAP 3 processor.
Corrected at 9:03 a.m. PT with accurate pricing. The original Nook 3G now costs $169, and the Nook Color price didn't change. Updated 11:49 a.m. PT to mention the ad-subsidized Kindle with Special Offers.