Barnes & Noble Nook GlowLight Review

by Reads (5,131)
Editor's Rating

Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

    • Design
    • 5
    • Performance
    • 10
    • Features
    • 5
    • Price/Value Rating
    • 9
    • Total Score:
    • 7.25
    • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10


  • Pros

    • Lightweight
    • GlowLight can be turned off
    • Brick and mortar stores for troubleshooting
  • Cons

    • Loose rubber bumper exposes internal components
    • Ebooks are more expensive than on rival Kindle

Quick Take

The Nook GlowLight offers some unique features, but users might not find they outweigh the cost of e-books from Barnes and Noble.

The Nook GlowLight is Barnes & Noble’s latest iteration of its light-up eReader, which allows users to read virtually anywhere, day or night. It replaced the Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight.

Build and Design

This is a lightweight device featuring a white plastic design, with rounded corners and a grey rubber bumper surrounding the casing. Barnes & Noble intended to create a less distracting reading experience with its white bezel, by mimicking the margins of a book. The idea is that the black bezel on a device like the rival Amazon Kindle Paperwhite is distracting. This mostly boils down to user preference, but TPCR didn’t find the white bezel to be any less distracting than the black casing on a Kindle Paperwhite.

Barnes & Noble Nook GlowLight in HandThe GlowLight measures 6.5 x 5 x .42 inches and weighs about .39 pounds, making it around 15% lighter than the Kindle Paperwhite.

The plastic casing is slightly rubberized, but TPCR noticed that on cold or drier days, it was more difficult to hold the GlowLight with one hand, since the backing doesn’t provide much traction. In some instances, the device was so light it slid out of testers hands a few times, but this isn’t necessarily a negative. For those that want to carry a book around without adding weight to a purse or briefcase, the GlowLight fits the bill. And while it may be difficult to comfortably balance the weight of the Nook when holding it with one hand, users can always purchase a case to add a little girth.

The grey rubber bumper gives the device a durable feel, and B&N states the bumper offers added protection for readers of all ages. That being said, the rubber bumper does pull away from the device. When asked, B&N stated the bumper’s design was intentional, and that the company may have future plans to offer different color bumpers. However, TPCR noticed that after a bit of use, the bumper did not sit flush with the device and was slightly pulling away, exposing inner components of the device. TPCR wouldn’t feel completely comfortable at the beach or sitting poolside with the bumper design, as it seems moisture or sand could easily penetrate the gaps.


The Nook GlowLight features a 212 ppi resolution, which is the same as the Kindle Paperwhite. The e-ink offers good contrast, making each page easy to read. Small text isn’t an issue with the generous resolution, which is nice when navigating the Nook store on the device, where there is often smaller text. The device has an anti-glare coating, which works well, allowing users to read in direct sunlight without any issues.

The GlowLight delivers an even light, with only a little bit of difference on the very top of the screen. Other than the few dark spots at the top of the display, the GlowLight offers a comparable experience to the Paperwhite. The lighting on the Kindle Paperwhite is only a bit more evident, but mostly unnoticeable. Any differences in the lighting were only noticeable with the brightness on the highest setting, which is really too bright for reading at night.

When reading a book, the device displays the text with a page number counter on the bottom center of the screen. Tapping the page numbers brings up a menu of options including “content”, “find”, “go to”, “text”, and “more”. The content button displays chapters, highlights and note, and bookmarks for the eBook. The find feature allows users to search the book they are reading and the “go to” button lets users jump to another page. The text icon brings users to a menu where they can adjust the font type, font size, margins, line spacing, and text size. Finally, the “more” button brings users to the shop page for the e-book they are reading.

Barnes & Noble Nook GlowLight -- Side ViewOne main difference between the display on the Nook GlowLight and Kindle Paperwhite, is that the reading light on the Nook GlowLight can be completely turned off. On the Kindle Paperwhite, users can only turn the light to the lowest setting, but it is still technically on. Compared side by side in a lit room, there is no measurable difference in screen brightness when the Nook GlowLight is turned off and when the Paperwhite brightness is set to its lowest setting. Users will really only notice that the Paperwhite light isn’t completely “off” when in a dark room.

Other Buttons and Ports

The device features a dedicated home button in the form of an “N,” which serves as a home and wake button. Another button on the upper left hand side of the device, nestled into the rubber bumper, wakes the device and puts it to sleep. On the bottom of the device, users will find a mini-USB port for charging.

Barnes and Noble axed the microSD card reader on its latest GlowLight, limiting users to internal and cloud storage. The device comes with a dedicated 4GB of storage, 2.5GB of which is available for content, or around 2,000 books. Users can also make use of cloud storage to swap out books if they find the 2.5GB will not suffice. The lack of a remvable memory card slot isn’t a huge loss for readers, since the GlowLight isn’t a tablet device, and ebooks take up very little space.


Concerns about the bumper prompted TPCR to look into the available warranty on this Nook device. It comes with a Manufacturer’s Limited Warranty for 1 year, with an additional 2 year extended warranty available for $24.95. The 2-year extended warranty covers defects and accidental damage, but brings the cost of the device to $145. In comparison, the Kindle Paperwhite 2-year extended warranty, offered through SquareTrade, is $29.99. So users will be looking at a cost of about $149 for the Wi-Fi Paperwhite with ad’s, making the GlowLight the cheaper option.

An advantage for the Nook GlowLight is BN’s brick and mortar stores. While Amazon offers prompt delivery and excellent customer service, there is something to be said about being able to talk to someone in person. With the purchase of a Nook, users can walk into any national Barnes and Noble retail location and speak with a representative about any issues with their device. But users that don’t live near a BN retail location might prefer the ease of Amazon’s shipping service.



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