New Nook tablets from Barnes & Noble

Barnes & Noble said Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2012,

Barnes & Noble said Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2012, that its new Nook HD will come in two sizes, one with a 7-inch screen (measured diagonally), starting at $199, and one with a new 9-inch diagonal screen, called the Nook HD+, starting at $269. (Credit: Handout)

Barnes & Noble is rolling out two new versions of its Nook tablet with sleek new hardware and a sharper high-definition screen.

The bookseller's move heightens the already intense tablet wars heading into the holiday season.

Barnes & Noble said Wednesday its new Nook HD will come in two sizes, one with a 7-inch screen (measured diagonally), starting at $199, and one with a new 9-inch diagonal screen, called the Nook HD+, starting at $269.

In addition to the new HD screen and a lighter body, Barnes & Noble is also increasing the services the Nook offers, adding a video purchase and rental service, allowing users to maintain different "profiles" and making it easier to browse titles in its book and magazine stores.

New York-based Barnes & Noble, the largest traditional U.S. bookseller, has invested heavily in its Nook e-reader and e-books. In its most recent fiscal quarter sales of digital content surged 46 percent, but revenue from devices dropped partly due to lower prices. Nook prices in the May-July period were about 23 percent lower than a year ago.

The company is seeking to offset tough competition from online retailers such as Amazon.com, as consumers increasingly move away from traditional books and DVDs to electronic books and streaming video.

The Nook HD is an upgrade to the hardware and services of its previous tablets, the Nook Tablet and Nook Color, which Barnes & Noble is phasing out. The company will continue to sell its smaller black-and-white e-reader, called the Nook Simple Touch, for $99, and a backlit Nook Simple Touch for $139. The Nook HD runs on Google's Android 4.0 system and includes Barnes & Noble's own app store and browser.-- AP

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