By Stephan Lee
April 12, 2012 at 12:00 PM EDT

Barnes & Noble announced its GlowLight technology today for the Nook, and the bookseller is hoping the new device will be a game-changer. Personally, I’m a happy Kindle and iPad user, but the new light feature is tempting enough for me to consider adding the Nook to my e-reader arsenal. The GlowLight addresses a major concern for me — and two out of three Americans — by making it much easier to read in bed. It takes the e-ink technology of the Kindle (and the pre-existing Nook Touch) and gives it a backlight, a combination that neither the Kindle nor the iPad have yet had in the same device.

Barnes & Noble held a demonstration in New York City Thursday, and I have to say that the new Nook could be a great device for a hardcore bed-reader like me. When you hold down the Nook button at the bottom of the device for two seconds, the six-inch touchscreen emits a localized, subtle light. It’s designed not to disturb your bed partner, yet it’s strong enough, even on a low brightness setting, for you to read without straining your eyes.

The Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight is actually lighter than any versions that have come before and with a single battery charge, you can read with the GlowLight on for over a month. Without the GlowLight you can read for two months, but considering how much extra energy it takes to light the screen, that’s not a terrible trade-off. Barnes & Noble claims that this new Simple Touch has faster page-turns than the Kindle, but I didn’t perceive a difference. One wish for a future upgrade: It’d be nice if it had a light sensor within the device so the brightness of the screen could adjust automatically.

I actually fall asleep while reading most nights, which means I’ve often woken up on top of my iPad or Kindle on many occasions. (Don’t judge — I’m a book blogger!) I’ve knocked my iPad off the bed countless times, and I’m hoping it continues to hold up. I don’t read my Kindle in bed anymore because I’m worried that the extendable reading light I use will snap off if I roll onto it or drop it. The B&N reps assured me that the Nook can take a beating — they’ve tested it by dropping it, burying it in sand, and spilling suntan oil on it. That’s a big claim to make, so I’ll just have to see if it survives my reading habits.

The Nook Simple Touch with Glowlight can be pre-ordered starting tomorrow, April 12. It will be available in Barnes & Noble stores at the end of April, and online orders will ship in early May.

What do you think, e-book lovers? Do you think GlowLight will improve your bed-reading experience?

Follow Stephan on Twitter: @EWStephanLee

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Barnes & Noble NOOK Tablet unveiled — CEO calls Amazon’s Kindle Fire ‘deficient’

Kindle Touch: A closer look at cool new features, and what it means for book lovers

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