Barnes & Noble is so desperate to sell its flagship NOOK HD+ tablet, that it’s now prepared to throw in a NOOK Simple Touch e-reader for free.

The company, which is known for its chain of brick-and-mortar bookstores in the United States, is no doubt realizing that its window for success is closing rapidly, as e-reader sales start to dwindle against fully featured tablets such as the iPad and Nexus lines. All the while, Amazon’s Kindle range seems to be doing just fine.

The NOOK HD+ was supposed to be the company’s knockout punch, offering a full HD, 1920×1280 display and access to multimedia content such as music, films and games. It was an aggressive response to the Kindle Fire HD, in short.

The software is reportedly a bit buggy, however, with slow load times, even slower user profile switching and awkward scrolling on the Web browser. So until it can fix the problem with better software, Barnes & Noble hopes to solve the problem by simply throwing more devices at consumers. Hurrah!

The buy one, sort of get one free deal is available across all of Barnes & Noble’s physical bookstores, as well as via nook.com as a “special limited time offer” from March 24-30.

Jamie Iannone, President of Digital Products at NOOK Media LLC, said the offer has been created to help consumers “fully experience all that the expansive NOOK Store of more than 3 million titles has to offer.”

That’s hardly compelling though, really. If you buy the NOOK HD+, the only reason to also own a NOOK Simple Touch is because you prefer the e-ink display. No, in all likelihood anyone that takes Barnes & Noble up on this offer will be doing it for one of the following reasons:

  • You know someone else that wants an e-reader. Hey, if a friend or family member’s birthday is coming up, it’ll make a perfect present for them, right?
  • It’s good eBay fodder. The NOOK Simple Touch e-reader is worth $79, which means that it should earn you a significant amount of cash if you just want to sell it on.

The NOOK HD+ is in a difficult place, as it doesn’t offer access to the Google Play Store. That’s a huge problem, as it means users have restricted access to some of the best apps that Android has to offer.

As a consequence, it can’t compete with other affordable Android tablets, such as the Nexus 7 or Nexus 10, nor the iPad or iPad mini in regards to functionality.

Where it needs to compete is on price. The 16GB model is currently $269, with the 32GB iteration topping that up to $299. That’s exactly the same as the 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD, which, while competitive, does nothing altogether unique to sway potential buyers.

Will throwing in a free low-end e-reader change the NOOK HD+’s fortunes? We’ll have to wait and see.

Image Credit:  Justin Sullivan/Getty Images