Barnes & Noble closes book on Nook Touch e-reader, ceding low end of market to Amazon

nook-simpletouchThe low-cost Nook Simple Touch e-reader has disappeared from Barnes & Noble’s online storefront in the U.S. without a trace of its passing. A report by the Digital Reader, which first spotted the Nook’s disappearance, said that all references to the e-reader will also be removed from Barnes & Noble retail stores.

The $79 device, which had been Barnes & Noble’s entry-level Nook, competed with Amazon’s basic Kindle for the low end of the e-reader market. Now, the lowest-priced Nook is the $119 GlowLight, which lines up against Amazon’s Paperwhite. The disappearance isn’t all that surprising, considering the Touch hasn’t received a software update in quite some time.

Still, unless there’s a new version on the way soon, the move suggests that B&N has effectively ceded the low-cost e-reader market to Amazon.

It appears to be bad news for the Nook division, which saw across-the-board layoffs earlier this month following depressing holiday sales of Nook books and hardware. The cut-backs follow a consistent pattern, though: B&N is looking to ditch products and people who are costing more money than they’re bringing in. It wouldn’t be surprising if sales of the three-year-old Touch were meager at best, which lead to its discontinuation.

Barnes & Noble’s fate in the e-reader market is of particular interest to Microsoft, which invested $300 million in the Nook division in 2012.

Update: Barnes and Noble spokesperson Mary Ellen Keating issued the following statement in an email to GeekWire:

“The critically acclaimed NOOK GlowLight™ is the successor to both NOOK Simple Touch® and NOOK Simple Touch® with GlowLight®. These earlier models are available in limited supplies only at Barnes & Noble retail stores and are sold out online at BN.com. With the new NOOK GlowLight we are bringing our customers the very latest reading technology, featuring perfectly lit pages, sharper text and an advanced display for an optimized long-form reading experience. The new NOOK GlowLight is available both in stores and online, alongside NOOK® HD and NOOK® HD+, for the low price of just $119, with Barnes & Noble Members getting an additional 10% off this best-in-class eReader.”

  • me

    The simple touch is the older model that was being phased out because the glowlight replaced it. Your version is good, too, though…

    • Blair Hanley Frank

      Hey, thanks for the comment. You’re right that the Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight was phased out in October for the Nook GlowLight, but Amazon continued to sell the Nook Simple Touch for $79 to compete with the Kindle. The company’s decision to discontinue that product means that there’s no direct rival to the Kindle on the low end, which is a significant development, as noted above.

      • http://JoyfullJuneBugg.livejournal.com/ JoyfullJuneBug

        Kobo e-readers maybe…

  • daisydog555

    I have to make the assumption that B&N is still forcing people to use THEIR electronic store front to download to any version of the nook. No google play— wanna play angry birds? fine pay $2.99! want a little app to tell you the weather? fine $3.99! Want to download library books from your local library using the immensely popular Overdrive interface? Fine. 1. Download over drive. 2. download special interface software to your pc. 3. find cable to plug your nook into your pc (you can only download books via a cable connected to your pc) 4. get online and establish new account for your proprietary download interface. 5. download your book to your pc. 6. transfer your book to nook. 7. read book.

    OR: download overdrive, log onto local library website, download book via wireless network- anywhere.

    • Steven Mack

      Actually the nook hd and hd+ BOTH have the Google play store…and have for nearly a year..allowing overdrive, free angry birds and he’ll …even kindle.

      • daisydog555

        Well how about ‘dat! I actually rooted my nook a couple of years ago anyway…..

  • Shannon

    I have the Simple Touch and I love it. Sad to see it go.

  • LeeAnn

    This sucks. I don’t need a glowlight on my ereader and certainly don’t want to pay 30 dollars more for it when I need a new one. I would switch to kindle now that it is the only low end ebook reader on the market but all my books are connected to nook. Can’t help but feeling a little cheated by Barnes and Noble right now.

  • Tukulito Sakayama

    I was ready to make my order on BN for my Nook Simple touche when I realize that is not there anymore. BN gave up the market to Amazon in the entrance ereader level, IMO it is not the most wise decision they could make, because I see everyday in my commute that the most of ereaders are the entrance level ones. Not the Paperwhite/Glowlight, the simple touch and the Kindle (cheaper one) are the most used by the people.

    • Disney

      Theyre available for $48 free shipping on ebay brand new.

  • PhilanderingMoustache

    Since this story broke, I haven’t bought a nook book and no longer plan to buy any in the future. I’m using my nook strictly to check out books from my local library.

  • Lou

    I think they discontinued it because It wasn’t that good of a product. The two I had stopped working properly. Both the Nook and Kindle keep rising in price. What else is out there we can buy that is just a cheap book reader without the unnecessary extras?