The Nook Simple Touch Reader, released in June 2011, was one of the first really good touchscreen E Ink devices on the market. Sony started selling touch eReaders way back in 2009, but models like the PRS-600 had a capacitive touch layer placed over the display which caused extreme text fading and glare. The PRS-650, released in August 2010, was the first of the big brand eReaders to use infrared sensors to detect touch gestures, introducing the technology that would eventually be used on the Kobo Touch, Kindle Touch, and Nook Simple Touch (hereafter referred to by the acronym NST). Kobo and B&N chose to release their first touchscreen eReaders in the summer of 2011, while Amazon announced the Kindle Touch later in the year, during their usual September press conference.
B&N really led the way for touchscreen E Ink devices though; the NST’s popularity among Nook users was widespread, and it attracted a lot of new customers (did anyone really love their Nook 1st gen all that much?). Best of all, developers were able to hack the NST, turning this standard eReader into an E Ink Android tablet. This went a long way to help boost NST sales among techies, but I think the eReading public at large responded very well to the Nook. All of the blogs and forums were suddenly filled with swear-by NST users, and B&N made inroads into the Amazon dominated marketplace.
I purchased a NST shortly after it came out, and I loved reading on it. When comparing the NST to its Kobo and Amazon competition, it was definitely the best of the three. It had a much better feel and design; physical page turn buttons, Best Text font rendering technology, and a rich, dark, matte finish. The contours on the back made it very comfortable to hold. Its an all-around great device.
A few days ago, B&N announced that they would be permanently dropping the price of the NST from $99 to $79. A few bloggers have suggested that this price reduction is the result of slacking Nook eReader sales, which is very possible. Amazon has undercut the NST with their $79 Kindle since last September, and now with the release of the new $69 Kindle, they’ve made it look even less appealing to first-time buyers. If you have never bought into an eReader ecosystem before, that $30 difference between the two can’t be ignored.
Hopefully, the new price is a smart move; the NST probably costs much more to build than what B&N is selling it for. I really wish they would reconsider their summer release time for new E Ink devices. This will always put them a step behind the holiday competition, even though B&N is a step ahead in the summer. The Nook Glo is now horribly outdated after the Kindle Paperwhite and Kobo Glo release, and the NST is long overdue for an upgrade.
Image: screenshot of bn.com