Mobile Devices

Barnes and Noble Nook eBook Reader Teardown

24 March 2011
The following is an overview of a teardown analysis conducted by IHS Benchmarking.

Overview / Main Features

The Barnes and Noble Nook eReader is a relative wirelessly connected eBook reader designed to be used exclusively with Barnes and Noble's eBook store. Just like its direct competitor, the Nook comes with an installed cellular modem to access and purchase eBooks wirelessly. However, Barnes and Noble did bring some new design improvements to the table with their release of the Nook - offering not only cellular data connectivity but also WiFi access as well as a novel color touchscreen secondary display that acts as the primary user interface for the device. What's more, the Nook actually is an eBook reader that runs a full blown Android operating system and hence has the necessary ARM-based Apps Processor to power the device. Couple with the added features, the Nook - naturally - comes out to a very high cost of BOM relative to retail cost when compared to the Amazon Kindle 2.

Barnes and Noble Nook eBook Reader Main ImageBarnes and Noble Nook eBook Reader Main Image

Target Market

High End eBook Readers (with loyalties to Barnes and Nobles) - competing directly with Amazon's Kindle eReader


Per press releases, first release in late 2009.

Barnes and Noble Nook eBook Reader - Main PCB BottomBarnes and Noble Nook eBook Reader - Main PCB Bottom

Pricing and Availability

Pricing - The Nook eReader sells for a list price of $259

Availability - US

Volume Estimations

For the purposes of this teardown analysis, we have assumed a lifetime production volume of 500K units.

As a reminder, teardown volume production assumptions are primarily used for our cost analysis in terms of amortized NRE and tooling costs, especially for custom components specific to the model being analyzed (mechanical components especially). Unless assumed volumes are different by an order of magnitude, minor changes in volume (say 1 million vs. 2) rarely have a large net effect on our final analysis because of this.

Barnes and Noble Nook eBook Reader Cost AnalysisBarnes and Noble Nook eBook Reader Cost Analysis

Cost Notes

Main Cost Drivers Representing ~80% of total materials cost

Sierra Wireless - MC8777V - Cellular Wireless Mini-PCIe Express Modem - Quad-Band GSM/EDGE, WCDMA, 3.6Mbps HSDPA

PVI - ED060SC4(LF) - Primary Display Module Value Line Item - 6' Diagonal, Electrophoretic (EPD), 4-Bit 16-Level Greyscale, 600 x 800 pixels, 153um x 151um Pixel Size, 122.3mm x 90.5mm Viewable Area

Samsung Semiconductor - S3C6410XH-53 - Microprocessor - 32-bit ARM11 RISC Core, 32-Channel DMA, 4-Channel Timer, 12-Bit ADC, USB2.0 OTG, 65nm Low-Power Process

BNRB1530 - Battery - Li-Ion Polymer, 3.7V, 1530mAh

Hynix - H5MS1G62MFP-J3M - SDRAM - Mobile DDR, 1Gb, 64M x 16bit, 166MHz@CL3, 1.8V (Qty:2)

6-Layer - FR4/RFC HDI, 1+4+1

Chunghwa Pictures Tube Ltd - CLAA035JA01CW - Secondary Display Module Value Line Item - 3.5' Diagonal, TBD Color TFT, 480 x 144 pixels, 86.4mm x 26.0mm Viewable Area

Sandisk - MicroSD Card - 2GB

Synaptics - Touchscreen Assembly Value Line Item - 3.7', Film Over Glass, Capacitive, w/ Integrated Flex PCB

Epson - S1D13521 - EPD Controller

Total BOM Cost $199.53

What Is Not Included in our Cost Analysis

The total materials and manufacturing costs reported in this analysis reflect ONLY the direct materials cost (from component vendors and assorted EMS providers), AND manufacturing with basic test. Not included in this analysis are costs above and beyond the material manufacture of the core device itself - cost of intellectual property, royalties and licensing fees (those not already included into the per component price), software, software loading and test, shipping, logistics marketing and other channel costs including not only EMS provider and the OEM's margin, but that of other resellers. Our cost analysis is meant to focus on those costs incurred in the manufacture of the core device and exceptionally in some circumstances the packaging and literature as well.

Manufacturing Notes

Country of Origin / Volume Assumptions

Based on markings, the unit was assembled in China. Furthermore, we have assumed that custom mechanicals (plastics, metals, etc.) were also sourced in China.

Country of origin assumptions relate directly to the associated cost of manufacturing, where calculated by iSuppli. In the cases of 'finished' sub-assemblies (such as Display Module), we do not calculate internal manufacturing costs, but rather assess the market price of the finished product in which case country of origin assumptions may or may not have a direct effect on pricing.

Remember also that labor rates are applied directly only to hand inserted components and systems in our bill of materials, and although regional assumptions do, these new rates do not have a direct effect on our modeled calculations of placement costs for automated SMD assembly lines. "Auto inserted components (such as SMT components) placement costs are calculated by an iSuppli algorithm which allocates a cost per component based on the size and pincount of the device. This calculation is affected by country or region of origin as well.

Barnes and Noble Nook eBook Reader - Exploded ViewBarnes and Noble Nook eBook Reader - Exploded View

Design for Manufacturing / Device Complexity

The Nook eReader has an overall component count of 1267 (excluding box contents), of which 538 comes from the Cellular Wireless Modem (Sierra Wireless mini PCIe card) and 639 from the Main PCB. Compared to the Amazon Kindle, the Nook has nearly 50% more components due to the added sophistication of running full Android OS, inclusion of WLAN capability and running dual displays.

Component counts have a direct bearing on the overall manufacturing cycle times and costs, and also can increase or decrease overall yields and re-work. Our calculations of manufacturing costs factor counts and more qualitative complexities in the design. The cost of manufacturing is also, to some extent, decreased in this case because of assumed labor rate applied for China.

Note that manual labor has a much smaller effect on auto-insertion assembly lines (for the Main PCB, for example), where manufacturing costs are much more capital equipment intensive and driven by these investment costs.

Design Notes

As with most other eBook readers, the Nook was designed primarily around the primarly e-ink display - arguably the largest cost component of any ebook reader. Like the Amazon Kindle 2 that came before it, the Nook offers a very similar (if not identical) 6 inch EPD display by PVI. Evidence of this is the use of the common Epson S1D13521 EPD controller chip.

Interestingly, Barnes and Noble went within an ""one-upsmanship" approach with the Nook design by including a secondary color touchscreen display as both the input device and color display alternative to distinguish itself from its direct competitor.

The Nook includes a Sierra Wireless UMTS/HSPA mini PCIe cellular modem card that is essentially a Qualcomm MSM6246 design. Is differs from the original Kindle 2 design which had a Novatel EVDO miniPCIe card (since the Kindle 2 introduction, Amazon has migrated to a UMTS/HSPA variant of the card).

Another value added design feature of the Barnes and Noble Nook is the inclusion of a WLAN chipset to provide WiFi connectivity in local hotspots. This solution was provided by the Cybertan PW621-M WLAN IC.

Here is a summary of the major components used in the Barnes and Noble Nook eReader design:

Display Modules

  • 6' Diagonal, Electrophoretic (EPD) - PVI - ED060SC4(LF)
  • 3.5' Diagonal Color TFT - Chunghwa Pictures Tube Ltd - CLAA035JA01CW

Main PCB


  • Microprocessor - Samsung Semiconductor - S3C6410XH-53

I/O & Interface

  • EPD Controller - Epson - S1D13521

Audio / Power Management

  • Audio Codec/Power Management - Wolfson Microelectronics - WM8350G


  • SDRAM - Hynix - H55S1222EFP-60M (Mobile, 128Mb, 4M x 32bit, 166MHz, 1.8V)
  • SDRAM - Hynix - H5MS1G62MFP-J3M (Mobile DDR, 1Gb, 64M x 16bit, 166MHz@CL3, 1.8V)


  • WLAN IC - Cybertan - PW621-M

Barnes and Noble Nook eBook Reader - Box ContentsBarnes and Noble Nook eBook Reader - Box Contents

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