The New York Times today published a long piece about Barnes & Noble taking on Amazon in the "fight of its life." Buried in the middle of the two-page article is a small mention of engineers "putting the final touches on their [Barnes & Noble's] fifth e-reading device, a product that executives said would be released sometime this spring."
No details were offered beyond that, with a Barnes & Noble spokesperson declining to comment further. But the obvious question is what is it?
Another tablet, perhaps a larger model (think iPad size but with a $300-$350 price tag)? An even more affordable e-ink e-reader that might allow the company to break the sub-$50 barrier? Or perhaps something more exotic, such as an e-reader that features Qualcomm's power-efficient Mirasol color display that has started to appear in e-readers in China and Korea? (Mirasol displays can also be viewed in direct sunlight).
The other thing worth considering is whether this new e-reader will be part of the Nook's launch overseas. Barnes & Noble has long been rumored to be making this move and the Times article states that the first stop abroad is "expected to be Waterstones bookstores in Britain." No word on exactly when the Nook will arrive outside the U.S., but a launch doesn't seem far off ("before long" is the time frame the Times reporter Julie Bosman suggested).
Also of note: Barnes & Noble will continue to tweak the design of its brick-and-mortar stores, according to CEO William Lynch. The company will be experimenting with smaller stores and eliminating the dedicated DVD and music sections while continuing to offer movies and music "elsewhere" in the stores.