Kindle And Nook Target The Back-To-School Set

Toys ‘R’ Us is a popular place to buy things like Lego kits, Crayola markers and Barbie tricycles. But the chain’s latest addition skews more e-ink than pink.

Hoping that shoppers will throw an e-reader into their shopping carts along with their crayons, pencils and fashionable T-shirts, Toys ‘R’ Us will start stocking the Kindle beginning July 31. Meanwhile, OfficeMax is a new retailer for the Nook and Nook Color.

As e-reader prices fall and the devices inch closer to being impulse buys, more retailers are interested in stocking them. A new National Retail Federation survey shows that 51.9 percent of families with school-age kids plan to purchase electronics this year, down from an all-time high of 63.7 percent last year. In a tight economy, it’s hard to justify buying a new gadget, but at back-to-school shopping time an e-reader could be seen as an educational purchase–worthier than a new phone or MP3 player.

And with the Harry Potter e-books coming out this fall–and available on the Kindle–it makes sense for Toys R Us to start stocking Kindles. It’s not going to get a cut of the e-book sales so it might as well capitalize on the hype in some way. Maybe we’ll see displays of Harry Potter action figures and other toys along with Kindles.

Toys R Us is giving a $10 gift card with every Kindle purchased between July 31 and August 6, Reuters (NYSE: TRI) reports. It appears that the chain will carry the $114 Kindle Wi-Fi with Special Offers, $139 Kindle Wi-Fi, and $189 Kindle 3G, but it’s unclear if the Kindle 3G with Special Offers–now Amazon’s bestselling Kindle–will also be stocked. “We’re always looking for new ways to help readers discover Kindle,” an Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) spokesperson said.

Barnes & Noble (NYSE: BKS) release