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nook-simpletouchBarnes & Noble, the struggling bookstore chain, is looking to supercharge its tablet and e-reader business in the face of intense competition from Apple and

The company just announced that it plans to give away a 6-inch Nook Simple Touch — a $79 device — when customers buy a $269 Nook+ HD tablet. The deal runs from March 24 to March 31 online and at Barnes & Noble stores.

“By offering a free Nook Simple Touch with the purchase of Nook HD+, customers can fully experience all that the expansive Nook Store of more than 3 million titles has to offer,” said Jamie Iannone, President of Digital Products at Nook Media.

Barnes & Noble’s Nook unit is struggling. Last month, the company reported that fourth quarter sales of the Nook declined 26 percent, to $316 million. The unit also reported operating losses of $190 million.

Those results come about a year after Microsoft agreed to invest $300 million in Barnes & Noble’s Nook business. Microsoft now owns 16.8 percent of the unit.

So, what do you think?

Is the promotion of a free e-reader enough to get you to consider the Nook family of products?

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