Barnes & Noble Will Ship Around 60,000 Nooks This Year

A lot more people have ordered the Barnes & Noble Nook, first announced on October 20, than the company expected (despite getting panned by the official reviewers). The company had Foxconn, their ODM, build far fewer of them than they should have.

The original plan was to ship pre-orders by November 30 but that date was pushed back to December 7. It took a mere month for the entire order process to break down. Now a small number of pre-orders still haven’t arrived and most brick and mortar stores are sold out and even then they were only available in “higher volume” stores on December 7.

B&N is assuaging those customers whose pre-orders and early orders haven’t shipped with a $100 B&N gift certificate if the device doesn’t ship by December 23. The company wrote: “With our sincerest apologies, we will send you an e-mail notification on December 23rd with a $100 Barnes& Online Gift Certificate.”

B&N reports that a “small number” of pre-order customers are facing difficulties and there are some conspiracy theories that state that B&N keeps pushing back ship dates to ensure purchasers don’t cancel their orders. For example one customer wasn’t happy with the wait and requested a cancellation. The result? A refusal to cancel the order because the “device has entered the shipping process” even though he still had three days to wait before it even hit the truck to his home.

According to B&N most pre-orders have shipped although it is currently impossible to purchase a Nook right now in time for Christmas or, presumably, Easter. The Nook, for better or worse, is this year’s Wii.

So how many will ship this year? Our Asian sources tell us around 60,000, which is more than B&N expected people to buy (only about 400,000 Kindles sold in the first year it was offered).

But B&N has Foxconn geared up to build a whole lot more Nooks right away. Between online and brick and mortar demand, the company is expecting to sell half a million Nooks in the first three months of 2010, way beyond their initial projections.

The biggest problem with the device was on the software side, which is slow and glitchy. Once that’s worked out the device will be a serious threat to the Kindle. And the fact that people can buy it in the offline world is a competitive advantage, too. One place you probably will never see the Nook sold, though, is Amazon. I’d bet on that.