Updated at 6:38 p.m. PST with comment from Barnes & Noble spokesperson.
If you're planning to head into a Barnes & Noble this week to get your hands on a Nook, put your plans on hold. Barnes & Noble said Sunday that it won't be featuring the e-readers in stores for sale or demonstration until December 7 due to excess demand for the device.
"A very limited supply, along with demo units, will be available in our highest-volume stores only, beginning December 7," Mary Ellen Keating, Barnes & Noble's senior vice president of corporate communications and public affairs, told CNET in an e-mail. The bookseller had originally hoped to have a limited number of the much-anticipated e-reader in some stores on Monday.
The week delay comes because the bookseller is making it a priority to deliver the $259 Nook to customers who ordered the device before November 20, Keating said, adding that the reader is starting to ship this week.
This isn't the first time eager Nook seekers have gotten disappointing news. When B&N officially entered the burgeoning e-reader market in late October, customers placing early preorders were told they could expect the Nook to ship by the end of November.
Earlier this month, however, the bookseller pushed that date back, telling preorder customers they could expect shipment by December 11. The company declined to say how many e-readers had been preordered.
Then, on November 20, B&N announced on its Web site that its e-reader, a challenger to Amazon's Kindle and Sony's Reader, is officially sold out through 2009 and customers ordering after that date wouldn't receive the device until January 4.
"The hottest holiday gift is out of stock," a message at the top of the page reads. "Order the Nook today to be first in line for the new year."
As my colleague David Carnoy has noted, the Nook delays could be good news for Amazon, which should have plenty of its e-readers available (B&N responded to this prediction by noting that it created Nook holiday gift certificates that can be wrapped and given to recipients). We'll have to wait and see how the end-of-year numbers shake out.