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October 30, 2012

Barnes & Noble Takes Nook Line to U.K. Supermarket Chain Asda

By Steve Anderson, Contributing TMCnet Writer

It's something of a familiar move for Barnes & Noble, as Barnes & Noble plans to bring the Nook reader, along with the Nook HD tablet line, to the U.K. supermarket chain Asda in a bid to open up some new, yet some somewhat familiar, markets.

Barnes & Noble has, in recent days, stepped up its television advertising efforts to the United Kingdom ahead of the launch at Asda locations. Previously only sold at the upscale John Lewis department stores, the move to Asda actually reflects a move that Barnes & Noble made in the United States, as the Asda line of stores is owned by Walmart, who in turn stocks the Nook line in the United States.

Initially, 300 Asda locations will carry the Nook, according to Barnes & Noble, but for those who aren't living near the correct Asda locations yet still want in on the Nook line -- including the Simple Touch, the Simple Touch Glowlight, the Nook HD and the Nook HD+ -- the Asda website will stock the devices, and Barnes & Noble plans to expand those sales outward to over 2,500 locations by an as yet undetermined point in the future.

Make no bones about it; Barnes & Noble desperately needs readers. While their brick and mortar outlets are still holding up, the increasing move readers are making to e-devices is leaving traditional publishing in the dust. With the major holiday shopping season only a little under a month out, it's clear that Barnes & Noble wants to see Nook devices under trees and Barnes & Noble gift cards in stockings. Stepping up the number of places that offer the device, backed up by an improved marketing push, is a great way to do that, but there's still one major sticking point that Barnes & Noble will have to overcome.

Amazon's been out in full force with their Kindle line--their recently upgraded Kindle line, no less--for quite some time now, and that leaves a lot of entrenched Kindle buyers. Worse, that's a lot of entrenched Kindle buyers who can't move their books to Barnes & Noble devices, even if they wanted to switch devices, so there's slim reason to change horses in mid-stream. So Barnes & Noble is going to have to go after the undecided market, a move which will certainly be facilitated by getting in Asda stores, but may well not be sufficient to get users in the door.

It's a good start for Barnes & Noble, but only time will tell if the Asda connection will be enough to get readers interested in the Nook line.

Edited by Rich Steeves
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