NEW YORK — The lighter, slimmer, cheaper new version of Barnes & Noble's e-reader has a black-and-white touch screen and aims squarely at the "grandma" demographic — or at least those craving a simpler e-book reader.
The latest Nook's price tag — $139 — is a sign that the book seller also is aiming to compete with Amazon and Borders Group on e-reader prices.
The focus on simplicity means the new Nook's battery can last two months, CEO William Lynch said at an event in New York. Lynch said the latest Nook was inspired by feedback from customers — specifically a letter asking why no e-readers were suitable for a grandmother.
"The Kindle 3 has 38 buttons. That's 37 more than the all-new Nook," said Lynch, taking a jab at Amazon.com's e-reader, the market's top seller.
The new Nook, to be available June 10, is WiFi only, has a 6-inch touch screen and can hold up to 1,000 digital books. It features the latest E Ink technology, which significantly minimizes flashing that can occur as a user pages through an e-book.
The newest device replaces versions that came before the Nook Color, which still sells for $249. After the all-new Nook's release, the first-generation Nook will sell for $119, and the Nook 3G will sell for $169 — until supplies run out.
Morningstar analyst Peter Wahlstrom said the newest version keeps Barnes & Noble current on technology, while reserving the company the option to release a more tabletlike device later. "You don't have to get into the really crowded tablet space right away," Wahlstrom said.
Barnes & Noble executives said the new device lets readers look up words, highlight passages, search and adjust font size.
The new device from Barnes & Noble comes after cable TV mogul John Malone's Liberty Media Corp. made a surprise $1 billion offer for the company Friday. Liberty Media executives have said they are interested in both Barnes & Noble's digital properties and retail stores.