Review of the Barnes & Noble Nook GlowLight 4

The Barnes & Noble GlowLight 4 is a basic, compact e-reader for anyone who has a large library of Nook books, but it lacks the functionality of competitors with similar prices.


  • Physical page-turn buttons are small and light.
  • Text that is clear and concise


  • Screen in the recess
  • Waterproofing is not possible.
  • Support from the public library is clumsy.


Dimensions4.75 x 6.2 x .2 inches
Weight5.95 oz
Screen Size6 inches
Storage Capacity32 GB
Book FormatsEPUB, PDF

Barnes & Noble’s latest Nook, the $149.99 GlowLight 4, defies the trend of larger-screen ebook readers. Instead, this small and comfy device features a 6-inch display that showcases the device’s simple reading experience. It’s easier to use than its predecessor, the GlowLight 3, and we like that tactile page-turn buttons are still present. However, the newest Nook e-reader isn’t quite as competent or robust as Amazon’s or Kobo’s current models. Our Editors’ Choice pick for the category remains the $139.99 Kindle Paperwhite, while the $179.99 Kobo Libra 2 is a great alternative thanks to its strong public library support.

A Compact, Barely Dated Design

The GlowLight 4 is a throwback: A 6-inch, 300ppi E Ink Carta HD panel from several years ago is still in use. Most mainstream ebook readers used the same 6-inch display for a long time, although screen technology continues to advance. The new 7-inch E Ink Carta 1200 screens are used in Amazon’s and Kobo’s latest midrange ebook readers. Compared to prior generations, these screens display more text per page and allow for faster page rotations.
The GlowLight 4’s smaller, 6-inch display, on the other hand, isn’t all bad; at 4.7 by 6.2 by 0.2 inches, it’s quite light and pocketable (HWD). It’s about one inch shorter than the Kobo Libra 2 and is significantly smaller and lighter than its predecessor. Another benefit of the GlowLight 4 is that it has a less reflective screen than its competitors.
Other characteristics of the Nook’s design, such as its recessed screen, are obvious drawbacks. The recessed screen form is troublesome because it collects more dust and grime over time than the flat-front screens found on newer Kindles and Kobos, which are also simpler to wipe clean. In addition, unlike similarly priced Kindles and Kobos, the GlowLight 4 is not waterproof.
The actual page-turn buttons on both sides of the front of the Nook are a creative and appealing addition. They have a mild, pleasing click and are suitable for usage by both right and left-handed people. The GlowLight 4 charges using the latest USB-C standard.
The GlowLight 4 has a color-changing front light, similar to other current midrange ebook readers. Its bluest color setting is a little whiter than the Kobo’s, but its brightest yellow setting is quite yellow. You may manually modify the color or let the device do it for you dependent on the time of day. I found the light to be extremely even in my experience.

The smartphone is powered by an Allwinner B300 1.5GHz processor and 2GB of RAM. The Nook has 29GB of storage, but only 5GB is available for sideloading; the rest is dedicated to Nook books, which is a lot of space for an ebook reader that doesn’t support audiobooks. It uses the 802.11n standard to connect to your Wi-Fi, but it doesn’t allow Bluetooth or music playback (it lacks both speakers and a headphone jack).

According to Barnes & Noble, the 1,400mAh battery should allow the Nook to go for a long time without needing to be recharged, but based on my week of anecdotal testing, I don’t believe this is true. The ebook reader lasted about one long book before needing to be recharged, though to be fair, I didn’t have to do it in the middle of the book.

For the Purpose of Reading

The reading software from Barnes & Noble is as rudimentary as it gets. You may read ebooks purchased from Barnes & Noble as well as sideload EPUB and PDF documents onto the Nook. Both the GlowLight 4 and any Kindle device don’t support as many formats as Kobo readers do.

Of course, where you’ve purchased ebooks in the past is the most significant thing to consider when it comes to format support. Transferring Barnes & Noble, Kindle, and Kobo books across platforms is difficult, in part because the process for eliminating DRM is cumbersome. For example, the most common approach for getting rid of Barnes & Noble’s DRM is to use Android developer tools.
The home screen is set to an abstract design by default, and unlike a Kindle, there are no adverts. The main interface displays your book library (you may organize titles into shelves or collections), the store, and Barnes & Noble Readouts, a promotional feature that displays excerpts and serials that the store is attempting to market. Unlike its sluggish predecessor, the main UI is lightning fast.
Within books, you’ll find eight fonts in various sizes and margins, as well as the standard table of contents and bookmarking choices, as well as a dictionary. You won’t find any of Amazon’s Kindle’s added X-Ray or Goodreads capabilities on this device.
Public libraries are underserved by the GlowLight 4. Getting a book from your library to your Nook is a clumsy process that requires you to memorize an Adobe password, download books to your PC, and then copy them to your reader through a cable. You can borrow books from a Kobo immediately from your device. You can get titles from your library’s website wirelessly on a Kindle.

Many people hack Nook ebook readers to run Android apps, which you can’t do with a Kindle, which is outside the scope of this article. We don’t believe anyone has done so with the GlowLight 4, although the item is still relatively new. In any event, the Onyx Boox Poke 3 ($189.99) is a better alternative if you truly want to run Android apps on a smaller ebook reader because it runs on Android 10.

Nook aficionados will appreciate this update.

Although most ebook readers now have larger screens, the Barnes & Noble Nook GlowLight 4 has a smaller (but still sharp) 6-inch panel, making it a more pocketable option. Its clean, quick interface and high-quality page-turn buttons are especially appealing. The GlowLight 4 is a decent upgrade from any of its predecessors if you possess a lot of Nook books and need a new ebook reader.

The Nook, on the other hand, can’t quite match with Amazon’s and Kobo’s latest ebook readers. Amazon’s Kindle Paperwhite, for example, is waterproof, has a flat front, and has a larger screen, but it lacks physical buttons. Meanwhile, the Libra 2 from Kobo is waterproof, has tactile buttons, and integrates better with your public library’s digital collection. We recommend either of these devices over the Nook if you’re buying an ebook reader for the first time.

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