Barnes & Noble unveiled the latest edition to its e-book reader line on Thursday: the Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight.
In hindsight, it might seem like the logical next step to add a built-in light source to brighten an electronic ink display on an e-reader. But really, the inspiration for Barnes & Noble came from listening to its customer base.
Specifically, Barnes & Noble was most concerned about when their customers are reading indoors during the evening. Thus, from March 1 through March 5, 2012, B&N researchers polled 1,358 adult readers across the country about their reading habits for the "The Barnes & Noble NOOK Bedtime Reading Debate."
Approximately two thirds of Americans were found to be reading in order to fall asleep -- although this did vary by region. For example, 70 percent of people polled in Los Angeles read in bed to relax or unwind before sleep compared to just 59 percent who live in New York City.
But this presented a problem for many couples throughout the U.S. -- primarily because one person might be disturbed by having a light on while trying to fall asleep, either from a lamp or a bright screen, such as one seen on an iPad.
This seems to be a big source of relationship stress in San Francisco, where approximately half of the respondents admitted they or their significant other has stayed up to read even though their partner wanted to go to sleep. Funny enough, respondents in Chicago and Miami seemed to be the complete opposite, having researchers wondering if they're better sleepers or simply more agreeable.
Nevertheless, there was one feature that nearly all respondents were asking for: a built-in light that isn't too bright in dark spaces but will still offer enough light for bedtime reading.
Barnes & Noble's vice president of product, Stephane Maes, explained to me that B&N developers wanted to make a device with a subtle, comforting, glowing light that is easy on the eye but doesn't keep you up.
Thus, the Nook Simple Touch is pushing the boundaries in the e-book reader market with the inclusion of GlowLight technology, which actually doesn't make the device any heavier. (It's actually 15 grams lighter than the original.) When using the GlowLight, the battery life is actually reduced by half, but so long as you have the Wi-Fi turned off, you should be able to squeeze out a decent amount still.