Barnes & Noble is preparing to launch its first new tablet since 2012. In its latest financial report, company officials say B&N is in discussions with hardware partners to develop a new color NOOK device that’ll launch in early fiscal 2015.

That doesn’t mean you’ll have to wait until next year to see a next-gen NOOK tablet though. B&N’s fiscal year ends on April 27th, 2014 — so we could see the company’s new tablet any time after that.

B&N NOOK lineup

Aside from the fact that the new device will have a color screen, B&N isn’t saying much about its new hardware. But the company is facing some serious challenges.

Revenue from the NOOK device and content division during the most recent fiscal quarter was down 50.4 percent from the same period last year.

If there’s a bright spot, it’s that revenue from digital content didn’t fall nearly as much as revenue from device sales. NOOK hardware sales dropped 58.2 percent to $100 million, while content sales fell just 26.5 percent to $57 million.

In other words, people aren’t buying NOOK eReaders or tablets as much as they were a year ago — but there still seem to be some people buying books and other digital media for their existing devices (or to read using the NOOK apps for Android, iOS, Windows, or other platforms).

Can new hardware help turn things around? It’s hard to say for certain. But the NOOK HD and NOOK HD+ tablets launched in late 2012 are starting to look dated. They have excellent displays, and attractive price tags. But they’re bogged down by relatively slow processors when compared with newer budget tablets from Google, Amazon, and others.

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4 replies on “Next-gen B&N NOOK tablet on the way”

  1. If they brought out a updated Nook HD+, I would buy one. I like the size of the tablet and the screen resolution was ahead of the other tablets when B&N introduced it. Letting it work with Google Play really gave it new life.

  2. B&N could not-so-easily juice up its sales by adopting
    a DRM-free format, just like Apple did with its iTunes
    store and mp3 music. The government should really
    look into the DRM schemes which prevent people
    from using the content they’ve bought on other devices.
    Amazon is the 800 lb gorilla here.

    I will grant that some kind of DRM scheme to ensure
    that the content is viewed on only 1 device at a time.
    It is strange, though, to see that the publishing industry
    has more muscle than the much-hated RIAA, which didn’t
    throw any legal challenges to Apple, when they were
    only too happy to sue kids. Of course, B&N doesn’t
    have a Steve Jobs, with his domineering personality.

    Considering the big bucks spent by lobbyists to Congress
    and the federal government, maybe I shouldn’t be
    surprised nobody is looking out for the consumer.

    Interestingly, Overdirve, which is the big player in digital
    publicshing content for libraries, has stated it will only
    be distributing DRM-free mp3 audiobooks, and will be
    dropping DRMed WMA audiobooks. One small step for
    mankind?

    1. I’ve bought all my ebooks from Kobo lately – most of their stuff seems to be DRM-free.

  3. Huh. I thought they were going to completely get out of the hardware business, and figured they would just partner with one of the other manufacturers and sell someone else’s tablet in B&N stores.

    And if the Nook HD has a slow processor, I must not be doing anything that needs a fast one. It compares pretty favorably to a buddy’s current-generation Nexus 7. And the Nook HD only cost me $70.

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