I own a nook and I like it. I think one of the best aspects of the nook is the customer service. My first nook died a day after I got it (the e-ink screen stopped working) and when I returned it the store the next day, the staff was very helpful and got me a nook immediately.
The nook works rather well for me. It reads epubs not only from B&N but from other bookstores as well as the library. The nook can read PDF files but I don't think it reflows them very well. I'm not sure if the new nook will be better in that regard.
The battery life was fine for me (about 4-5 days without wifi turned before charging again). However, the new nook will have significantly better battery life.