02/21/2012 01:04 pm ET Updated Feb 21, 2012

Nook Tablet 8GB: Barnes & Noble Launches $199 Tablet, Slashes Nook Color Price Tag

At the same time that major bookseller Barnes & Noble announced a drop in its quarterly net income, the company announced a new version of its Nook Tablet eReader device.

According to a company press release issued on February 21, the new 8GB Nook Tablet will be sold at $199, $50 cheaper than its 16GB predecessor. The new Nook's price tag matches its direct competitor, Amazon's Kindle Fire tablet.

In addition to 512MB of RAM, a 1GHz dual-core processor fit for video-streaming and web-browsing, and an estimated 11.5-hour battery life (reading time), Engadget reports that the 8GB Nook Tablet will offer a microSD slot to make up for the loss of 8GB of on-board storage, a feature the Kindle Fire lacks.

With a new price and competitive specs, Barnes & Noble's newest Nook Tablet may fulfill the company's hopes to make it an even better rival against Amazon's Kindle Fire, which, CNET reports, may be nipping at the iPad's heels in the tablet market.

Barnes & Noble has also slashed the price of its Nook Color from $199 to $169. According to SlashGear, with these cheaper eReader and tablet offerings, the company appears to be bolstering its digital downloads and hardware sales. Back in January, B&N CEO William Lynch told the AP in an interview that the company was considering spinning off the eBook business from the traditional book-selling business. "We want to unlock value and shine a bright light on that business," Lynch said, per the AP.

While the company's most recent earnings, posted on Tuesday, reported a 14-percent drop in net income, revenue from both its eReaders and its digital offerings rose 38 percent, while traditional book sales rose a mere 4 percent in comparison.

You can purchase the new $199 Nook Tablet today on Barnes & Noble's website or through other retailers in coming weeks.

Will you take advantage of the tablet's cheaper price?