B&N Rush To Market With Nook Comes At A Cost

Nook Reading

Late last week, we reported that the IRex wireless digital reader is MIA until further notice but Sony (NYSE: SNE) and Barnes & Noble (NYSE: BKS) still were promising to make their Dec. 24 deliveries. Not so fast. Despite canceling plans to sell the $259 Nook in stores now in order to fulfill the early rush of orders, B&N admitted this weekend that it will not hit the mark. Instead, some buyers received an e-mail explaining how the company would make it up to them with holiday certificates to give the intended recipient — and a $100 BN.com gift certificate. Consumerist posted the e-mail, which shows the new delivery date as Dec. 29.

B&N pushed the Nook to market to take advantage of the holidays and e-reader hype, delivering devices with software that frustrated reviewers and making shipping promises that it now can’t entirely keep. The company has delivered an unknown number of Nooks but despite numerous slips in the shipping schedule — units ordered now won’t be delivered until February — and other timing shifts, held back on this admission to the last minute. A B&N spokeswoman told the WSJ that the company will fill the majority of orders promised for delivery by Dec. 24 will make it.

Sales were higher than expected. B&N has said that for weeks. And it looked like the company was being realistic by pushing the delivery dates back for pre-orders. It’s not the first company to run into production issues after hitting the market; Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) went through similar patches at Kindle’s launch and with the intro of new models. But B&N oversold — and now it’s under delivering. That may well cost it in credibility. That’s why B&N went for such a high amount: a free e-book is an apology; $100 is an admission of how much is at stake.

And still the company continues to push the limits with the following headline on BN.com: “The hottest holiday gift is sold out. Order nook today to be first in line for the new year.” Chinese New Year maybe. That’s Feb. 14.

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