GlowLight Lite

Barnes & Noble’s next Nook is as entry-level as e-readers come

The GlowLight 4e is bare-bones and $30 less than its predecessor.

Following last year’s relaunch of the Nook brand, Barnes & Noble just announced a less-expensive version of its favorite backlit e-reader. The GlowLight 4e is — as the name suggests — a lighter version of the GlowLight 4 released in late 2021.

Like its direct predecessor, the GlowLight 4e sports a 6-inch E Ink touchscreen, though this iteration comes in at 212 DPI (where the GlowLight 4’s screen is 300 DPI). In almost every aesthetic regard, the 4 and the 4e are basically identical, though; put them side-by-side and you’ll be hard-pressed to choose which is the entry-level option. They share the same chunky bezels, soft material finish, and dual physical page-turn buttons.

The most notable difference here is just how much storage you’ll get for your buck. The GlowLight 4e has just 8GB of storage, which may sound small in modern parlance — but ebook files are very small, and those 8GB will probably be plenty for the average reader.

Bringing Nook back — When Barnes & Noble brought back the Nook line last year, it promised it would “reinvigorate” the Nook brand in the coming months and years. With a second device in the lineup, that wish seems to be materializing.

The GlowLight 4e is modern in the same ways the GlowLight 4 is a contemporary take on the classic Nook. A micro-USB charging port has been replaced by a USB-C port, reducing charging times and bringing the e-reader up to industry standards. The 4e uses the same namesake technology to create even ambient backlighting.

But can it compete? — The new Nooks are a far cry from Barnes & Noble’s first attempt at rebooting the brand about a year ago. The 10” Lenovo-made Nook — which is more of a tablet than anything else, closer to Amazon’s Fire tablets than its Kindles — was a shot (and a miss) in the dark. (That device is still available for purchase at $129.)

The GlowLight 4e will be the least-expensive Nook available right now, but it enters a market full of inexpensive e-readers. Kobo’s Nia shares many specs with the GlowLight 4e, and at just $99, it’s a steal even though it lacks a USB-C port. Amazon offers its very basic Kindle for $109.99 — or just $89.99 with ads — though its screen only clocks in at 167 DPI.

The GlowLight 4e’s price tag isn’t holding it back all that much. In a world where Kindle grossly dominates the e-reader market, though, Nook is going to need to distinguish itself a bit more if it really wants to compete. The Nook name can only carry so much weight.

The new Nook GlowLight 4e will release on June 7, both at Barnes & Noble stores and on the company’s website.

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