Still walking around with a first generation Kindle, Nook, or Sony Reader? Barnes & Noble is currently offering incentives to upgrade from any other eReader when you switch to the new Nook Simple Touch eReader. While supplies last, those who choose to take advantage will get themselves a memory card with 30 books on it. Supposedly, it’s a value of over $300. Admittedly when looked at closely it’s an offer of questionable value for the most part, but if you have an older device on your hands and intend to switch anyway then it might be worth the trouble.
All you have to do is bring your old eReader with you to any Barnes & Noble store when you go to buy your new Nook. This isn’t a trade-in program, so they don’t expect you to hand over your old device. Just show up with a Kindle, Sony Reader, Kobo, or whatever you have on hand, and your new Nook will come with a preloaded 2gb SD card.
It is definitely a smart move on behalf of B&N. Trade-in and upgrade programs are always a useful means to promote your new product, especially when that new product genuinely brings something useful to the table like the new Nook does. The only issue I can really see with it is that of how little value the books will provide for most customers. If it were a matter of getting 30 books of your choice, this would unquestionably be worth the trade for a PRS-500 or first generation Kindle even if it did mean handing over the old model, but instead B&N will be choosing your books for you. A collection featuring cookbooks, crossword puzzle compilations, classics, and kids books will probably have something for everybody, but it is hard to imagine any particular person wanting all of it at once. If I were to guess, I would be expecting perhaps 4-5 really enjoyable eBooks for any specific customer.
Normally, the shortcomings associated with this offer would be enough for me to find ways to subtly deride the good people over at B&N for such a paltry offering. The fact is, however, that at the moment there are no competing opportunities on the market, as far as I am aware. It won’t be a huge incentive for most people who are fairly new to eReaders, since you already have to own one to take advantage anyway. It also certainly won’t be enough to pull in many customers who have a latest generation Kindle, since grabbing any books you want out of the offering selection would likely be cheaper than grabbing a second eReader that isn’t compatible with your existing purchases. For people who are unsatisfied with last generation devices, or those with no substantial DRM-protected eBook library, it might be enough to push the decision on an upgrade to Nook over Kindle. The good folks at Barnes & Noble are almost certainly aware of the narrow margin by which they hold the lead right now, so any nudge in the right direction is going to help capitalize on the success.