Barnes & Noble eReader


If you were hoping to get a Barnes & Noble Nook e-Reader as a way to survive Christmas, there’s bad news: you might have to talk to your relatives after all.

The device has already officially “sold out” for Christmas delivery, but the firm had said anyone who ordered it before November 20th would get it in time for the big day. However, in an e-mail to Information Week, the firm backtracked a little from that certainty: “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.”

Rather strangely the firm also noted that because of high-demand it was prioritizing pre-orders. Presuming that simply means sending devices out in the order they were purchased, you have to wonder what the firm’s normal policy is.

Anyone who ordered since November 20th will now be getting the device from the week of January 5th at the earliest. As a way to mitigate the problems, the firm is offering the option to buy a gift certificate for the device (which can be delivered for Christmas), and will have a limited supply in stores from next week.

This might not turn out to be the public relations disaster it seems on the surface however. As Barnes & Noble had already had a cut-off date for orders to arrive before Christmas, there’s no danger of people who would have gone on to order them as gifts deciding to give it a miss.

As for those who have already ordered and will now be disappointed, Barnes & Noble already has their money. The only real danger would come if the device proves a disappointment and leaves people angrily declaring that it wasn’t worth the wait.

However strong the demand for the Nook really is (as usual, conspiracy theories have it that supply has been intentionally limited to make it appear more desirable), it’s clear the device faces a harsh struggle to overtake the Kindle. Amazon has just reported that its own electronic reader was not only the most popular product on wishlists, but also the best-selling product on the entire site last month.

There are certainly strong arguments that the Nook may be a better device technically than the Kindle, but the momentum of being the first product to gain a foothold in a new market can be very difficult to overturn.

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