Barnes & Noble's Nook is coming to Best Buy, a development that introduces the Kindle-like e-reader to the electronics retailer's tech-enthusiast clientele. Starting Sunday April 18, Best Buy will feature Nook displays in its 1,070 U.S. stores. Customers will be able to try and buy the Nook, or purchase one at the retailer's website.
Today's announcement confirms last week's rumors that the Nook was coming to Best Buy. We're still waiting to hear whether Target will sell the Amazon Kindle, another tidbit of e-reader gossip that seems likely, particularly in light of the Apple iPad's headline-grabbing launch earlier this month.
Style sells, of course, and the relatively drab Nook may have a tough time competing with the splashy iPad, which Best Buy also sells. Indeed, the strategy of cloistering the Nook in its own kiosk makes sense, particularly as it allows a Best Buy staffer to articulate the e-reader's attributes far from the oohs and aahs of the iPad-loving crowd.
A New Start
Until now, the only place to see and try Barnes & Noble's e-reader was at the retailer's bookstores, most of which had prominent Nook kiosks near their entrances. This hard-to-get approach may have limited initial sales, but perhaps that was a good thing. After all, the Nook had a shaky debut late last year, one plagued by supply shortages and less-than-stellar reviews ranging from tepid to downright hostile. Barnes & Noble has since issued software patches to correct some of the Nook's early glitches.
The Kindle has been even harder to find in the wild. The only place to buy one is at Amazon's site, although that may change shortly if the rumored Target deal goes through.
Certainly, a little added exposure would benefit both the Kindle and Nook. Not only must they contend with the iPad, but also a new slate of e-readers should arrive sometime this year, including the Plastic Logic Que and (maybe) the Hearst Skiff.
And it's likely that many consumers aren't clear on the attributes of a conventional e-reader. For instance, why does it have a drab, E-ink display rather than a color LCD? (Answer: Outdoor reading and a longer battery life.)
Now's a good time for Amazon and Barnes & Noble to preach gospel a little louder.