Nook GlowLight gets a price cut; Amazon Paperwhite gets rave reviews

October 1, 2012

The e-reader often gets overlooked in favor of smartphones and tablets, but it’s still a market neither Amazon nor Barnes & Noble is willing to give up without a fight.

Barnes & Noble announced over the weekend that it’s dropping the price of its Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight, the frontlit e-ink reader it released last spring. The reader, formerly $139, will now cost $119.

That, by some amazing coincidence, is exactly the price of the entry-level version of Amazon’s light-up reader, the Kindle Paperwhite.

Reviewers were raving about the Paperwhite in write-ups Monday morning and calling the device, to quote NBC News, “The king of e-readers.” Time’s Harry McCracken gave Amazon’s reader top marks, saying that it’s the “best product Amazon has sold under the Kindle moniker,” with particular praise for the reader’s high-contrast screen.

Wired’s Roberto Baldwin said that the Paperwhite beats out the Nook with GlowLight, in part, because it lights the screen in a much more uniform way. It’s not perfect, Baldwin says, but the Paperwhite’s screen makes the reader well worth the price. He does, however, fault the reader for not having physical page-turn buttons and for being ad-supported.

Those ads, which Amazon calls Special Offers, are a sticking point for some people — a fact Barnes & Noble hasn’t ignored.

In its press release, Barnes & Noble takes a not-so-gentle jab at the competition, by pointing out that its e-reader comes without ads, even at its lower price. Losing the ads on the Paperwhite costs an additional $20. The Nook, Banes & Noble notes, also comes with a wall-charger while Amazon’s device ships with a USB cord.

Overall, reviewers seem to think the two light-up readers are almost evenly matched with Amazon’s e-reader coming out slightly ahead due to screen quality and breadth of content. But if you like physical buttons or simply have more books in Barnes & Noble’s system than Amazon’s, the newly cheaper Nook may be just the thing for you.

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Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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