Amidst poor sales and an uncertain future, Barnes & Noble has announced that it will give away the Nook Simple Touch e-reader for free to anybody who buys a Nook HD+ tablet, for a limited time. Reuters reports that next week, anyone who buys the $269 Nook HD+ will receive a Simple Touch as well. The Simple Touch normally sells for $79 after a December price drop; we haven't yet seen the deal go live on Barnes & Noble's site, though the Nook HD+ currently comes with a $50 store credit.
Barnes & Noble reported a disastrous 26 percent year-over-year drop in Nook sales this holiday, and this announcement suggests that it's trying to offload some of the e-readers and tablet inventory it had hoped to sell. Barnes & Noble has touted the value of bundling E Ink and LCD products before, but this fire-sale pricing could also be part of its recently announced plan to reevaluate tablet and e-reader strategies. While the company has refuted rumors that it's losing interest in hardware production, it has suggested that people are more interested in tablets like the Nook HD+ than in single-use devices. The Nook Simple Touch, meanwhile, isn't its newest e-reader: the Simple Touch with Glowlight succeeded it in April of last year.