Barnes & Noble threw a new contender into the eReader arena today with their pre-order launch of the new Nook.

Side by side, the new Nook and Kindle 3 look quite similar. They both have 6 inch E-ink screens and a slate grey case. But because the new Nook has a touchscreen, all those buttons than run along the bottom of the Kindle are unnecessary.

Barnes & Noble’s CEO, William Lynch, pushed that point strongly during the new eReaders introduction, saying “It�s for people who are turned off by buttons, keyboards, and complexity. Kindle 3 has 38 buttons. That�s 37 more than the all-new Nook”. The lack of buttons allows the Nook to be about an inch smaller, length wise, than the Kindle.

Comparing features:

The Nook enters the ring an ounce lighter, 7.48 oz. (212g), compared to Kindles 8.5oz (241g).

Page turns: B&N states that the new Nook has 80% smoother page turns than the Kindle, and minimizes flashing.

Fresh out of the box, there’s more storage on the Kindle, 4gb, vs the Nook’s 2gb. Though the Nook will take up to a 32gb microSD card for added storage.

The nook has wifi connectivity, vs the Kindle’s wife and 3G ability.

Battery life is twice as long with the Nook. B&N says it will go for two months before it needs a recharge (with wifi turned off), compared to the Kindles one month.

The Kindle has both portrait and landscape modes, the Nook just portrait.

The Kindle has text to speech, and the Nook does not.

For social connections, but devices connect to Facebook and Twitter. The Nook also connects to Nook friends. For browsing the web, the Kindle has a browser, the Nook does not.

The new Nook has 7 text sizes and 6 styles, the Kindle 8 text sizes and 3 styles.

The Nook allows users to “read most Books for free in Barnes & Noble stores”, according to B&N, which of course won’t be the case with the Kindle.

Price: the new Nook is available for pre-ordering at $139. The same price as the Kindle wifi version. Of course, Amazon also has the Kindle with Special Offers at $114, the new Kindle 3G with Special Offers for $164, and the Kindle 3G (without Offers) for $189.

No knockouts here. It comes down to the judges decision. Consumers will make the final call.