A few days after announcing their (underwhelming?) Nook deal with John Lewis, Barnes & Noble have revealed the names of three more UK retail partners: Argos, Blackwell’s and Foyles. The move suggests B&N’s strategy is to sell the Nook via a large number of medium-sized retailers, rather than going for a smaller number of really big-hitters.
Argos is well-known mid-market retailer with 700 stores across the UK as well as a successful online / telephone sales service. Blackwell’s is the UK’s leading academic bookseller, with outlets at 55 UK universities and colleges. Foyles is one of the UK’s best-known bookstores, with a huge London store that has long been regarded as the largest in the world. For many, Foyles is best remembered for its antiquated sales system that – until the beginning of the 21st century – eschewed electronic tills and required customers to join multiple queues to make a single purchase. Foyles has modernised in recent years, but retains some quirks: there’s a piranha tank in the children’s department, for example.
These are decent retail outlets for B&N and give the Nook a boost in the crucial pre-Christmas period. I still think they need a deal with a supermarket like ASDA if they’re going to make a real splash, but the combination of John Lewis, Blackwell’s, Argos and Foyles is a good start. The press release announcing the news doesn’t mention whether there will be any more retail partners (although I still think Waitrose is a possibility), and also specifies that it’s the Nook Simple Touch and Nook Simple Touch with Glowlight that will be available in time for Christmas.