Barnes & Noble might have missed their chance to get either WHSmith or Waterstones as a local partner, but apparently that merely delayed their UK expansion, it didn't put the kibosh on it. They've just added this page to their website:
There's also an attached press release, and it says that B&N will be selling their own ebooks at nook.co.uk. The Nook devices will be sold via retail stores. There's no mention of a bookstore partner, but as I've said B&N has already missed out on their best chances. So instead of having a bookstore push their hardware, B&N is going to have to rely on retail giants like Tesco. And thus my prediction from back in April came true.
B&N will be selling all of their digital content via the new site, including both apps, ebooks, and enhanced ebooks, and that finally confirms why B&N was recruiting Android developers in London back in March and publishers in April. But of course, we already guessed the outcome. You'll also be able to order all 4 current Nook devices via the website as well. There's no news on price, but Barnes & Noble specifically states that they'll be launching in the UK in mid-October. Later in the press release they confirm that the ebookstore will open in middle of autumn.
The UK is B&N's first step in their plans to expand into 10 countries over the next year. Their self-imposed deadline is June 2012, and since it won't be open until October, Barnes & Noble is leaving this rather late. Amazon already has a , and even Kobo managed to to promote their ebookstore. What's more, Apple and the Google Bookstore have a presence in Great Britain as well.
At this rate B&N is running out of potential partners as well as countries where they won't face stiff opposition. But on the upside, B&N already has an install base of some unknown number of Nook owners. at least some of whom will be pleased when B&n lets them buy ebooks legitimately.