Barnes & Noble says it will offer a $100 gift certificate to users whose Nook e-readers were due to arrive by Dec. 24 but will be delayed due to high demand and shipping issues. Meanwhile, a note on the Barnes & Noble Website suggests that devices ordered now will not ship until the first week of February. Despite being pigeonholed as a niche item by some analysts, e-readers such as the Nook and the Kindle are attracting attention as holiday gifts.
Barnes & Noble will offer $100 gift vouchers to customers who
pre-ordered its Nook e-reader for delivery by Dec. 24, but who will not receive
the device on time.
On Dec. 19, the
posted an e-mail received by one Nook customer, in which
Barnes & Noble blamed "higher-than-anticipated demand" for any
delay in the devices. "If for whatever reason we are not able to ship your
[Nook] in time for arrival by Dec. 24," the e-mail continued, "with
our sincerest apologies, we will send you an e-mail notification on Dec. 23
with a $100 Barnes&Noble.com Online Gift Certificate."
Previously, Barnes & Noble had announced on its Website that shipping of
orders placed after Nov. 20 would be delayed until the first week of January.
Presumably customers scheduled to receive their Nooks by Dec. 25 ordered
relatively soon after the device's Oct. 20 debut in New
Barnes & Noble has not yet responded to eWEEK's request for comment.
Meanwhile, a note on
Barnes & Noble's Nook Website
said devices ordered now have an expected
ship date of Feb. 1.
Early reviews of the Nook have been decidedly mixed. Walt Mossberg of the
Wall Street Journal and David Pogue of the New York Times praised some basic
features of the device while suggesting it suffered
from software bugs and poor battery life.
Despite being described as a niche product by a Forrester analyst earlier in
2009, e-readers have become a much-hyped item this holiday buying season.
Prices of the devices have fallen, driven by a price war between Amazon.com and
Barnes & Noble over the Kindle 2 and the Nook, both of which now retail for
$259. The larger-screened Kindle DX, which does not have a major competitor,
continues to retail for $489.
In another sign that the e-reader wars have been escalating, more companies
have been rushing into content deals with publishing companies. On Dec. 17, Sony
announced a deal with News Corp.
that would see the Wall Street Journal,
MarketWatch and the New York Post made available on its e-readers for a fee.
That move follows similar ones by Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble to port
content from major publishers onto their devices.
Eager to gain more market share, both Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com have
designed branded e-reader applications for their devices.
However big the hype, though, e-reader manufacturers have remained
tight-lipped on actual sales figures. Amazon.com CEO
Jeff Bezos has been previously quoted as saying that sales of the Kindle and
associated e-books account for roughly 35 percent of the company's book-related
revenue. On Dec. 17, Amazon.com announced that December would be the company's
best month of Kindle sales so far.
In a Dec. 1 research note by financial advisory group Collins Stewart,
analyst Sandeep Aggarwal estimated that Amazon.com would sell as many as
550,000 Kindle devices in 2009, producing Kindle-related revenue of $301.4
million for the year.
But further penetration of the overall consumer market may require a further
price drop, at least according to one analyst.
"The cost of the display component is high and sales volumes are still
modest, yet consumers demand and expect ever-lower prices," Sarah Rotman
Epps, a Forrester analyst, wrote in a Sept. 1 research report. "The bottom
line: E-reader product strategists will have to educate consumers and innovate
to bring prices down. Even if they are entirely successful at both these feats,
e-readers will never be mass-market devices like MP3 players."