Barnes & Noble has previously announced plans to launch the Nook Store into the UK in October, and today they decided to spoil the surprise by announcing the first retail chain to carry the Nook in the UK.
It will be John Lewis, and they'll be selling the Nook and Nook Glow in all 37 department stores as well as on www.johnlewis.com. Curiously enough, there was no mention of the Nook Tablet and Nook Color in the press release. That makes me wonder whether B&N doesn't expect to have the Nook App Store ready in time.
There isn't much to today's news once you pare out the marketing BS, and if this had been a US retailer I would have passed on the story entirely. But as this is a UK partner it tells us a few details about B&N's lack of success in signing up retailers.
You can tell a lot by B&N's first partner. It's not one of the major chains (Tesco, Walmart/ASDA, Dixons). Instead it's a moderately successful smaller department store chain which, even though it's likely doing quite well financially, probably won't sell all that many Nooks.
Wake me when B&N announces a major retailer as a partner. Until they do that (and can get the Nook into say ASDA's 530 stores) I'd say that they don't really have a retail presence. At least, not compared to their major competition.
The Kobo Touch is sold and promoted by WHSmiths, and the Kindle is sold by numerous UK retailers as well as sold and promoted by Waterstones. Those 2 devices have a decided advantage in the UK over the Nook. They have the home court advantage in having been sold there for years and they're already positioned in exactly the spot where readers expect to find books.
B&N's going to have to find some way to match the presence of Kobo if they plan to gain market share. Considering that B&N has had years of free marketing in the UK (Brits can go online) it's not impossible. But it will require more retail partners.