UPDATE 6/22: After Barnes & Noble dropped the price of its competing Nook device, Amazon has slashed the price of its Kindle e-reader to $189, down $70 from its previous price of $259. Amazon has lowered the Kindle's price several times since it debuted in 2007 at $399. Amazon also sells a larger-screen Kindle, the Kindle DX, for $489.
Earlier today, bookseller Barnes & Noble released a new version of its Nook e-reader that supports a Wi-Fi only connection and priced at a very inexpensive $149.
In addition, it also slashed the price on its 3G Nook to $199.
This new shift in pricing means that B&N has e-reader models priced below market leader, Amazon's Kindle, which retails for $259 in its cheapest model.
Tony Astarita, vice president for digital products at Barnes & Noble.com, the new Nook was built in response to customer feedback and market research.
He said that the new model is targeted at someone who may be a solid reader with a Wi-Fi availability at home or outside the home (like a Starbucks or Panera Cafe) and not so much a mobile a traveler who may need a 3G connection.
At $149, the new Wi-Fi Nook is competitive with the Sony Pocket Reader and the Kobe e-reader from competing mega-bookseller Borders. However, neither of those competing readers support Wi-Fi and the Sony product has only a five-inch screen compared to a six-inch display for the Nook.
Upping the ante is the fact that B&N offers free Wi-Fi access within its stores and allows Nook users to read any electronic book without purchasing it (within brick and mortar stores) as well as offer free content and coupon deals.
Other notable Nook features include the lending of books between almost any e-reader users. "Our strategy is any book, any time, any place," Astarita told PC World.
Plus, the new reader is a half ounce lighter than its heftier 3G kin and has a white, rather than gray, back panel.
Both Nooks offers complementary access to some 20,000 AT&T wireless hotspots across the country.
So the question remains, will this be a game changer for the e-reader market? Or with Apple's potent iPad, will this new Nook be as relevant as a Palm Pilot in a Smartphone world?
The device is expected to be available at the end of the week.
A comprehensive list of e-reader prices are available after the jump
Electronic reader prices
Barnes & Noble cut the price on its original Nook electronic book reader, which could signal the start of a price war for dedicated electronic readers. Here are some retail prices for electronic book readers and Apple's iPad.
Amazon.com's Kindle: $259
Barnes & Noble's original Nook: $199
Barnes & Noble's new Wi-Fi-only Nook: $149
Borders' Kobo eReader, shipping in July: $149
Apple's iPad: Starts at $499
Sony Reader Pocket Edition Digital Book: $169
Sony Reader Daily Edition Digital Book: $349.99