Barnes & Noble Gets Aggressive With $149 Nook Wi-Fi

Barnes & Noble Monday debuted a low-cost, Wi-Fi-only version of its Nook e-reader and cut the price of its original Nook. The Nook Wi-Fi will be available immediately for $149, according to Barnes & Noble, while the original Nook, which offers 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity, will be priced at $199, down from $259.

Both prices undercut Barnes & Noble's most direct e-reader rival, Amazon, whose Kindle retails for $259.

According to Barnes & Noble, the Nook Wi-Fi offers many of the same physical features as the original Nook, including color touch screen for navigation and E-Ink display, as well as the LendMe technology for sharing content with other Nook users.

Barnes & Noble also confirmed a software update, version 1.4, that it says provides both Nooks with better connectivity.

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Nook Wi-Fi will begin shipping for online orders this week, Barnes & Noble confirmed, and will be available in some Barnes & Noble and Best Buy retail locations by the end of the month. General availability is expected in a few weeks.

"People who love to read will find tremendous value with the new Nook Wi-Fi, the most full-featured, low-cost e-reading device on the market, and our best-selling Nook 3G now at an even lower price," said Tony Astarita, vice president, digital products for Barnes &, in a statement. "This expanded choice offers best-in-class, best-priced dedicated e-book readers featuring e-book sharing, access to our vast eBookstore, great free and exclusive content and much more."

Barnes & Noble has been working to pump up the Nook's profile, using a slate of Nook-related promotions, a new ad campaign this spring, and exposure on platforms such as Apple's iPad, for which it launched an app called BN eReader for iPad.

The Nook's effect on the overall e-reader market -- still dominated by Amazon in North America, and with newer contenders in iPad itself and Google's forthcoming Google Editions service -- is still unclear.

In its most recent earnings report, in February, Barnes & Noble reported a 33 percent increase in quarterly sales year-over-year, as well as a 32 percent increase in sales from Barnes & At the time, Barnes & Noble CEO Steve Riggio was confident the Nook would continue to bolster sales, saying that Nook sales had begun only in the middle of the quarter and had been strong.

Barnes & Noble is expected to report fourth-quarter and full year earnings June 28.