Brick-and-mortar bookseller Barnes & Noble is aggressively wooing readers of virtual books, introducing a smaller, lighter, cheaper version of its Nook e-reader. The Nook Simple Touch Reader is a tablet with a black-and-white touchscreen, the capacity to hold 1,000 books, and a battery that lasts up to two months. The addition of a touchscreen, especially, is a challenge to online rival Amazon's market-dominating Kindle. Can Barnes & Noble's latest gadget take the lead? (See the new Nook up close.)

The new Nook is great, but no "Kindle killer": The Simple Touch Reader is "a major upgrade from the original Nook," and B&N has every right to toot its own horn, says Lauren Indvik in Mashable. But with a Kindle refresh due, B&N's "celebration should be short-lived." Even if the tweaked Kindle comes up short, the Simple Touch Reader isn't enough to get Kindle fans to give up their e-library of Kindle-only books.
"Is Barnes & Noble's Simple Touch Reader a Kindle killer?"

The new Nook is targeting a crucial market: B&N figures there are about 50 million Americans in the market for a first e-reader, says Linda Tischler in Fast Design. And this Nook is targeting the voracious readers of mass fiction "who don't share the digerati's obsession with the latest version of tablets," or Kindles, for that matter. The Nook may well be the pocket-sized "digital paperback" that wins over mystery, romance, and sci-fi aficionados who prop up the book market.
"Barnes & Noble's new Nook, one of the lightest e-readers ever"

Amazon isn't taking this sitting down: It took Amazon only a few hours to try to "one-up its rival" by rolling out a cheaper, ad-supported version of its Kindle 3G, says Mark Hachman in PC Magazine. And the Kindle 3G was already our choice for the best dedicated e-reader on the market. "That's not to say that the new B&N Simple Touch Reader is dead in the water," just that it has a high hurdle to clear if it wants to erode Amazon's perch atop the e-reader pile.
"Amazon launches Kindle 3G with ads to one-up B&N"