Planning a trip to your local Barnes & Noble (NYSE: BKS) this week for a look at the Nook? Save the gas. In the weeks since B&N announced it was going beyond selling others’ e-readers or making deals to be the e-bookstore for various devices with its own entry in the market, few Nook shoppers have held one before ordering the $259 device. That was supposed to change this week with demo units going to all stores and slick displays for some high-traffic stores. Given that B&N admitted earlier this month it can’t meet pre-order demand for its Nook e-reader, the sign to that effect in the Atlanta store I spent some time in this weekend wasn’t a surprise — and neither is confirmation the retailer won’t meet its Nov. 30 date to have displays stocked. B&N told the it will take another week to get the demo units in place and some units for sale in stores. According to Reuters, Nooks will only be sold directly in the highest-volume stores and in very limited supply.
B&N already was dealing with such limited availability of the device that it wasn’t planning to even sell the Nook to go in most of them this year, as we reported last month. Instead, would-be buyers were encouraged to order directly online or to go into a store to order one for home delivery. The bricks & mortar retail channel that should be B&N’s top advantage over online-only Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) Stores has been relying on signage and some pamphlets. That didn’t stop the unit from selling out for now but it’s hard to tell how many sales are being lost because of that strategy. (Then again, B&N isn’t saying how many Nooks have been sold, either.) A B&N spokeswoman told the WSJ the chain is still working to deliver all the Nov. 20 pre-orders for the holidays; others aren’t being promised before early January.