Is the Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook the future of e-readers?

Barnes & Noble and Samsung have partnered to release the Galaxy Tab 4 Nook, a Samsung tablet that replaces the Nook, Barnes & Noble's signature e-reader since 2009.

Mike Blake/Reuters/File
A Barnes & Noble book store in Encinitas, California.

Samsung, meet Nook

Announced Wednesday in New York, the South Korean electronics maker and Barnes & Noble have joined forces to release the Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook. Though that may sound like a mouthful, it's the book chain's attempt to turn the struggling tablet into a hardware-agnostic operation buttressed by one of the biggest players in the tablet market. Barnes & Noble prefaced this announcement last month when it said it was working with Samsung on a new Nook tablet. 

The Tab 4 will replace the Nook tablet, which launched in 2009. The seven-inch device will essentially function as an Android-powered Wi-Fi tablet with added features layered on that tie it into the Barnes & Noble e-reading experience. Included in the device is "more than $200 in free content from the NOOK Store" such as popular books, TV shows, and magazines, according to a release. 

"The Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK is the most advanced NOOK ever, delivering the great NOOK experience our customers have come to love, with the high-performance tablet features they've asked for," said Michael Huseby, Barnes & Noble chief executive, in a statement. 

Available now in more than 660 Barnes & Noble locations and online, the tablet sells for $179 after a $20 instant rebate, the same price as a regular Samsung Galaxy Tab 4. 

The tablet features a 1.3-megapixel front-facing and a 3-megapixel rear-facing camera "for photos and video chats." In addition, users have access to the Google Play store for Android apps and the Nook app store. It also comes loaded with the "full suite of Google applications featuring Chrome Web Browser, as well as built-in GPS capabilities for location-based apps and more."

Barnes & Noble will continue to sell the Nook GlowLight e-reader and provide continued customer support for all Nook devices. 

The partnership with Samsung marks the second recent example of the bookseller partnering with a tech giant to ensure its survival in a rapidly-changing book culture and market. Earlier this month, Barnes & Noble announced it was partnering with Google to provide same-day shipping for online book orders in an effort to take on Amazon, the online mega retailer that has come under fire for heavy-handed tactics in its attempt to exert control over the book market, notable in its stand-off with the publisher Hachette. 

This announcement also comes at a time when the tablet market is struggling globally. 

Market research firm IDC predicts the tablet market will grow slower in 2014 than it did the previous year, which has been attributed to saturation in the tablet market, individuals holding on to tablets longer than expected, slow adoption of tablets by the commercial market, and the increasing penetration of "phablets" or smart phones with larger screens. 

IDC further reported that Apple and Samsung, long the dominant forces in global tablet sales, are increasingly losing tablet share to smaller players. 

"Until recently, Apple, and to a lesser extent Samsung, have been sitting at the top of the market, minimally impacted by the progress from competitors," Jitesh Ubrani, an IDC research analyst, said in a statement last month. "Now we are seeing growth amongst the smaller vendors and a levelling of shares across more vendors as the market enters a new phase."

Apple's third-quarter results showed a decline in sales of its iPad tablet from the same time last year. Prior to its quarterly report, Apple announced a new partnership with IBM that will market smart phones and tablets directly to business clients, a move that could lift its sagging iPad sales. 

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