The Nook Simple Touch GlowLight is not Barnes & Nobles’ first E Ink-based reader. But it is the first that can be read in the dark, making it a rival for other nocturnal e-readers such as the Kobo Glo and Kindle Paperwhite.

The Nook Simple Touch and Nook Simple Touch GlowLight are aimed at literature fans, designed for reading books, magazine and epublications. Barnes & Noble, already a formidable power in the US book market, is trying to gain a foothold in the UK with this launch of its new Nook eReaders and tablets.

Starting at a competitive £79 for the Simple Touch and £109 for the GlowLight version, the Nook offers a high-quality touch screen and reading experience. It should stand the Nook in good stead in the UK market this festive season. 

Design and build

Design-wise, the Nook is very sturdy, measuring 127mm wide, 166mm high and 12.7mm thick. The back has a rubbery finish which certainly aids grip in one hand. 

The Nook has a 6in E Ink Pearl display with 800 x 600 pixels, and so directly  comparable to other ebook readers on the market. Despite its size, the Nook is very light at just under 200g, making it very comfortable to hold. 

The Nook Simple Touch claims it has the “world’s most advanced E Ink display”, which may be true – but it’s the same screen used by all the main rivals too.

In our tests it worked well, and can be used for outdoor reading, with no reflected glare in bright sunlight. The Nook Simple Touch Glowlight has built-in LED lighting for low-light and night-time reading. Meaning you won’t need to disturb your partner whilst cosying up with Mr Grey for a bit of ‘Nookie’. 

The evenly spaced LED lights do ensure even lighting of the page, albeit adding a slightly blue hue over the words, which shouldn’t hinder your reading experience. 

Its battery life is advertised at over one month of use using the GlowLight, or two months with it off. In the two weeks we were using it, it didn’t need to be charged once.

Internal

Unusually for a simple ebook reader, the Nook is based on Google Android operating system, version 2.1. While its interface is not the same as your usual Google phone it’s straightforward to use, with the home screen showing what  books or publicatins you are reading now, and recommendations for future purchases from Barnes & Noble. 

Easy understandable icons and generously spaced menus make navigation simple. The home screen is easily accessible by clicking on the ‘n’ button on the bottom of the device. Sone customisable options include changing the font size, line spacing and margins. 

The Nook is powered by a 800MHz ARM processor. It has 2GB of internal storage, although only 240MB was shown as available to the user. There’s an option to expand the storage up to 32GB through a microSD card slot. It uses infrared light on the side of the bezel for its touch sensitivity, and we found this to be responsive to touch and accurate when using the keyboard and menus.

B&N is really pushing its social reading experience with programs like Nook Friends and Lendme, as well as social integration of Facebook and Twitter.

You can start a conversation about your latest read after you share it on Facebook. We tried this “share” feature and had some good feedback from friends. Who said book clubs where dead? You can lend the Nook ebooks that you’ve downloaded, for up to 14 days, with other Nook users or anyone with a Barnes and Noble app installed on their Android or Apple device.

B&N provides an ecosystem for their customers to buy and read books. B&N’s main UK selling portal is uk.nook.com, and we’re told customers will be able to find more than 2.5 million digital books, including UK newspapers and magazines. It should also offer content from independent publishers and self-publishing authors through the PubIt programme. 

The Nook is able to support EPUB PDF, JPEG, GIF, PNG, and BMP file formats. Don’t expect to be able to take your downloaded books off your Nook via USB though, as your downloaded content is locked to your Nook and not transferable, apart from a temporarily lend to a friend using Lendme.

OUR VERDICT

Slightly chunkier than its rival Kindle but somehow lighter, the Nook Simple Touch GlowLight may have found itself a niche in the market. A simple interface makes it easy to use and the social integration with Facebook and Twitter is a fun feature. The GlowLight feature works well too.