Nook to finally arrive in Barnes & Noble stores

Barnes & Noble will finally use its brick-and-mortar muscle to sell the Nook e-reader in stores.

The Nook is scheduled to go on sale in the majority of Barnes & Noble stores this Wednesday, Reuters reports. Previously, you could order a Nook through an in-store kiosk or online, and the device would be shipped to you.

In-store sales and display of the Nook were delayed repeatedly as Barnes & Noble tried to keep up with online demand. The first delay was from November to December, then December to January, then all was quiet until today’s announcement. It’s not clear how many stores will stock the Nook, as “the majority” is a vague term and Barnes and Noble has previously said the e-reader will only be available in high-volume locations. I guess you could always call ahead.

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The Nook made waves when it was announced last October, becoming the most formidable challenger to Amazon’s Kindle. It had a lower price of $259 (Amazon eventually lowered their price to match) and sports a 7.7-by-4.9-inch E-Ink display and a separate color touch screen running the Android operating system. Demand was higher than expected, and Barnes & Noble had to delay shipments, offering $100 gift cards to whoever ordered early and missed Christmas delivery.

Reviewers praised the device’s potential, but criticized its sluggishness and bugs. Barnes & Noble has since fixed these basic usability issues with a couple of updates, but perhaps those earlier issues also factored into the Nook’s delayed store arrival.

In any case, the Nook’s store presence indicates that shipping woes are over and sales can proceed as normal. However, the Nook is already starting to look antiquated compared to newer developments. There is Spring Design’s upcoming Alex, which impressed me at CES with its integration of a Web browser, and Asus is also planning some neat-looking e-readers. The Kindle could gain some steam with the addition of an app store, and of course, there’s the iPad. But at least now you’ll be able to try the Nook in store and see if it’s right for you.