Barnes & Noble Struggles To Fill Nook Demand

Barnes & Noble hopes to deliver the e-book reader in time for Christmas to everyone who ordered before Nov. 20. But they're not making any promises.

Antone Gonsalves, Contributor

November 30, 2009

3 Min Read

Barnes and Noble is scrambling to meet demand for the Nook, the bookseller's electronic book reader that compete's with Amazon's popular Kindle.

Barnes & Noble Nook eBook Reader

Barnes & Noble Nook eBook Reader

(click image for larger view)
Barnes & Noble Nook eBook Reader

B&N plans to start shipping the Nook this week, hoping to deliver the device in time for Christmas to everyone who ordered the e-reader before Nov. 20. However, the company isn't making any promises.

"We are starting to ship this week and are committed to doing everything we can to ensure everyone who ordered a Nook before November 20th will receive it in time for the holidays," B&N spokeswoman Mary Ellen Keating said in an e-mail sent to InformationWeek Monday. "Due to the high demand, we are prioritizing our pre-orders."

People who ordered the e-reader between Nov. 20 and Nov. 29 should expect delivery the week of Jan. 5. People ordering the device as of 11 a.m. Eastern time Monday can expect B&N to ship the device "on or around" Jan. 11, Keating said.

"We continue to offer a holiday certificate to customers who want to give the Nook as a gift for the holiday," the spokeswoman said.

People hoping to snag a Nook at one of B&N's stores are likely to also have difficulty. Demo devices are scheduled to arrive at B&N's highest volume stores the week of Dec. 7, with a "very limited inventory" available for sale at those same stores "at a date yet to be determined," Keating said.

Assuming that B&N can eventually bring supply in line with demand, the Nook, introduced in October, could become a strong competitor to the Kindle, which currently accounts for the majority of e-reader sales today, according to Forrester Research. Sony's Reader is a distant second.

Nevertheless, the e-reader market is very young, and Amazon's competitors could increase share in the future. Forrester predicts sales this year will reach 3 million units, with 30% of the purchases occurring during the holiday season. E-reader sales next year could exceed 6 million units, according to Forrester.

B&N, meanwhile, plans to sell more than just the Nook at its stores and online. The company in late October said it will also sell Plastic Logic's e-reader, the QUE, starting in January. The QUE is a larger e-reader than the Nook and costs more than $200 more.

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