A Close Look at Barnes & Noble’s nook

By Carissa J. Bernard

Note: Barnes and Noble (B&N) lists both nook and The Nook as acceptable methods of naming the product, but uses “nook” in its own advertising. 

What’s a nook? How does it work?

Introduced on October 20, 2009, Barnes & Noble’s nook is an eReader, which used Fictionwise (bought by B&N in March 2009) as its eBookstore (Ferguson, 2010).  Nook Touch has “a series of infrared sensors that are activated when something physical interrupts the beam… you can use this form of touchscreen with gloves, with a stylus, or really anything that can touch the screen” (Library, 2012). Nook is advancing from a simple e-reader to a multipurpose tablet with each new generation.

What’s the difference among nooks and Amazon Kindles?

The Nook and Kindle both originally had e-Ink displays and similar storage, although now they have progressed to models with LCD screens. Their differences are noticeable, however, through their proprietary eBook style, touchscreen vs. keyboard, and battery life. Due to nook having a touchscreen in place of its keyboard, it compensates for its shortened energy storage with a replaceable battery, something Kindle does not allow its users to do. Kindle allows for Word files, and nook does not. Barnes and Noble has free Wi-Fi in stores to encourage nook’s use but also allows for 3G/4G data use, as does the Kindle (Ferguson, 2010). Pricing for Kindle, nook, and their eBooks are very similar. Kindle uses Amazon’s app store while Nook uses Android services and formatting.

Use and Diffusion

“Barnes and Noble and the Nook family are holding on and appear to be a clear second place as far as sales go. The Sony Reader line is a distant, distant third, and anyone else that’s still competing in the market (Kobo and a few others) are distantly behind them” (Library, 2012). B&N “sold approximately 10,000,000 Nooks” by 2013, according to Barnes & Noble president and NOOK media CEO Michael Huseby. Due to the company losing more revenue than expected, they are working on better programs and products to recover (Nusca, 2013).

Nook has allowed reluctant students to focus on their work due to a lack of other applications, improving the amount of reading completed. Some factors included convenience, novelty, escape, privacy, and flow (Dierking, 2015). One study shows that elementary students with access to devices like the Nook had higher overall scores on tests and more participation in classroom activities (Union, Union, & Green, 2015).

Pros and Cons of the Nook

PRO: Nook allows users to lend out material to anyone with the free B&N reader on their PC, nook, iPhone, Mac, or other smartphone through LendMe program (Ferguson, 2010).

CON: Not all titles are available through the LendMe program. The program only allows a user to “borrow” material for 14 days once. Once the material is lent once, it cannot be lent out again to that user or anyone (Ferguson, 2010).

PRO: Potential adopters can test out nook in any B&N location.

CON: Nook can only be purchased online, although an employee can order it for you at one of their stores.

PRO: Nook (and other eReaders) use E Ink, reducing the amount of battery power used overall.

CON: There were no other functions available (i.e., games) to help the reader or entertain them in other ways. Also, “E Ink simply isn’t capable of the instantaneous response you get from an LCD screen” (Library, 2012).

PRO: The LCD screens on newer models have video and audio capabilities, allowing for further media consumption (Library, 2012).

PRO: Nook has no ads at all (Library, 2012).

PRO: Nook reads EPUB files as well as its own where Kindle only reads AZW files. (Library, 2012).

CON: You cannot purchase a book on another eReader then transfer it to the Nook.


For more information on tablets and other technologies, their impact, and their history:



Dierking, R. (2015). Using Nooks to Hook Reluctant Readers. Journal Of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 58(5), 407-416. doi:10.1002/jaal.366

E-Readers Now, E-Readers Forever!. (2012). Library Technology Reports, 48(3), 14-20.

Ferguson, C. (2010). Technology Left Behind — Barnes and Noble Carves a nook in the eReader Market.Against the Grain, 22(1), 81-85. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.7771/2380-176X.5870

Nusca, A. (2013, August 20). For Barnes & Noble’s Nook, the beginning of the end: Revenues are collapsing. Margins are thinning. Is it the final chapter for the U.S. book retailer’s device business? Retrieved April, 2016, from http://www.zdnet.com/article/for-barnes-nobles-nook-the-beginning-of-the-end/

Union, C., Union, L., & Green, T. (2015). The Use of eReaders in the Classroom and at Home to Help Third-grade Students Improve their Reading and English/ Language Arts Standardized Test Scores. Techtrends: Linking Research & Practice To Improve Learning, 59(5), 71-84. doi:10.1007/s11528-015-0893-3