Barnes & Noble hasn’t completely forgotten its lineup of Nook e-readers. Starting today, you can preorder the new Nook GlowLight 4e for $119.99. That’s about $30 more than Amazon’s cheapest Kindle and $20 cheaper than Amazon’s extremely popular Paperwhite. But, unlike Amazon’s products, there are no ads you have to pay to avoid, and you can easily sideload content.
The Nook GlowLight 4e charges via USB-C and has 8GB of built-in storage, which is standard for an e-reader at this price. It also has a 6-inch 212 ppi E Ink display with illumination. That’s better than the $89.99 Amazon Kindle with its 6-inch 167 ppi display, but the Kobo Nia starts at $99.99 and has the exact same display. The Kobo Clara HD retails for the exact same as the GlowLight 4e but also has a 300 ppi display. If sharp text is your be-all and end-all at this price then the Kobo Clara HD is probably your best bet.
But what the Nook GlowLight 4e has that both Kobo and Amazon lack is... buttons. Instead of tapping or swiping across the E Ink display and hoping it registers the input, the Nook GlowLight 4e has page-turning buttons on the left and right bezels. Both Amazon and Kobo reserve that feature for much pricier products.
Barnes & Noble has been slow to compete with the two companies on hardware. Kobo has a wide range of e-readers to fit a variety of price points, while Amazon has been content to lowball the competition with the cheapest products (apart from the excellent, if expensive, Kindle Oasis). But now, Barnes & Noble has not one but two e-readers: this relatively low budget $119.99 product and the $149.99 GlowLight 4, which was introduced back in December. At the time, Barnes & Noble CEO James Daunt said the company was “significantly investing” in its Nook lineup.
I’ve got to admit, as fairly standard as these devices are, it’s exciting to watch Barnes & Noble finally compete in a space that has grown absurdly stagnant in the US. Overseas, you can find all kinds of e-readers at all kinds of prices. Maybe one day that will happen here, too.
The Nook GlowLight 4e is available for preorder starting today and will begin shipping June 7th.