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Barnes & Noble's Nook e-reader Delay: Merry Christmas, Amazon!

Barnes & Noble is delaying shipments and reducing availability of its Nook e-reader to its stores in order to fulfill customer pre-orders.

Barnes & Noble had expected its Nook e-reader to be ready for in-store sales on Monday, but on Sunday said it will delay shipments to its stores until Dec. 7.

The company expects a limited quantity of its Nook devices to be available in its highest-volume stores due to its push to ship the e-reader to customers who pre-ordered them prior to Nov. 20.

The delay comes at a time when Amazon said sales of its rival Kindle e-reader is continuing to grow, with November being its strongest month yet.

Mary Ellen Keating, a Barnes & Noble spokesperson, wrote in an e-mail that the company is doing all it can to ensure that everyone who ordered a Nook before Nov. 20 will receive it in time for the holidays.

However, Keating wrote, "due to the high demand, we are prioritizing our pre-orders."

On Nov. 20, Barnes & Noble wrote in a blog posting that its Nook e-reader was out of stock for the holidays and that customers could expect pre-ordered units to arrive in the week of Jan. 5, 2010.

However, Keating wrote, customers placing orders on Monday could expect them to ship on or around Jan. 11. The company is offering a holiday certificate to customers who purchase the device as a gift.

In addition to the Nook, Barnes & Noble last month said it also plans to resell the Que business-class e-reader device from Plastic Logic when it becomes available on Jan. 7.

The delays in its Nook shipments may not be the end of Barnes & Noble's e-reader difficulties. Earlier this month, Spring Design, the producers of the Alex e-reader, filed a lawsuit against Barnes & Noble, alleging the company infringed on its patents with its Nook.

According to Spring Design, the company and Barnes & Noble discussed confidential information about the Alex early this year under a nondisclosure agreement.

Keating wrote that the delay in Nook shipments is not related to the Spring Design lawsuit, and that Barnes & Noble's corporate policy is to not comment on litigation.

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