Barnes & Noble (BKS) Cuts $20 Off of NOOK Prices Ahead of iPad Launch, But...

March 15, 2012 11:52 AM EDT
Ahead of Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPad launch Friday, one competitor is pulling out (some of) the stops.

Barnes & Noble (NYSE: BKS) issued a release earlier offering a discounted deal for its NOOK tablet line, but there is one catch. According to the release, prospective purchasers will need to buy the tablet with a MasterCard (NYSE: MA) in order to save $20 on either a NOOK Color or NOOK Simple Touch. This brings the price of the NOOK Color to $149 (from $169) -- quite a deal.

According to Barnes & Noble's own website, the NOOK Color has received an average rating of four stars out of five possible. Doing a quick Google search, the NOOK Color still got four stars while its Simple Touch counterpart came in with 4.5 stars.

Comparably, Amazon's (Nasdaq: AMZN) Kindle Fire, with a few months under its belt, has been getting four of five on Amazon's own website and 4.5 stars on Google shopping. The Fire is still priced at $199, but refurbs for about $30 to $35 less are also available.

This is starting to sound like an episode of Star Search.

Notably, Apple iPad owners didn't rate their device because they're too busy FaceTiming each other, watching movies, editing photos, or otherwise reading a book. Make that an e-Book. They'd probably give it a full five-star rating anyway, right?

Those in the know remember back in January when it was mulled that Barnes & Noble would possibly sell its NOOK business. The announcement came after the company cut its fiscal 2012 outlook on bleak expectations. Barnes & Noble dropped about $3 per share following the announcement, but has since decided to keep calm and carry on with the NOOK (obviously).

Investors are keeping tabs on Barnes & Noble Thursday: shares are down about 2 percent. Apple and Amazon shares are up about 0.3 percent.

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