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Nooks with E Ink get seasonal sales boost in summer, tablet bundles doing well

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Barnes & Noble's President of Digital Devices tells us the E Ink Nooks traditionally have a surge in sales just before beach weather and around Mother's / Father's Day.

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The timing of the Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight — out intentionally just before Mother's Day and before summer — is no coincidence. That's of course no surprise, as product are meticulously planned at all stages of its cycle, from research and development to engineering to sales and marketing. But there's a particular boost in E Ink interest just in time for beach weather, according to Barnes & Noble's President of Digital Devices Jamie Iannone. He's been a figure in Nook's development since joining the company in 2009 following a stint at eBay.

"I think [this past] holiday, we had very good growth in E Ink," he told us today at the Nook event, "but it wasn't as explosive as we thought it would be. There was a lot of press around color devices and LCD, et cetera. We did see faster growth in our LCD [devices, e.g. Nook Tablet and Nook Color] than our E Ink."

"I think this holiday we had very good growth in E Ink, but it wasn't as explosive as we thought it would be."

Still, Iannone said that the Nook Color and Tablet have not affected sales of the E Ink-based Nook Simple Touch. "You've somewhat got different customer segments. E Ink is really for the longer form readers that don't want magazines, apps, videos." Iannone said the company has been seeing many customers buy both and has been testing selling bundles, E Ink and LCD devices together. "It's actually worked really well," he said.

Barnes & Noble opted for a series of small press events for the Simple Touch with GlowLight event — here, a hotel suite with minimal lighting, hands-on displays set up in beds to emulate just the right tone — instead of its press conference held on the top floor of its Union Square flagship store, so we took the opportunity to ask Iannone about future Nook developments as well. We weren't expecting much comment on color E Ink — which we saw in decent form at this year's CES — and as such, we weren't disappointed by the response. Iannone echoed B&N's previous comments, saying that "the quality [of the color displays] is not there yet." Chuck Neugebauer, VP R&D and based in Palo Alto, added that color capabilities have typically degraded the brightness of whites. Neither would elaborate further on future plans.