Barnes & Noble Moves Away From Bookstores For UK Nook Launch: John Lewis Dept Store Named First Partner

More developments on Barnes & Noble’s plans to launch its Nook devices in the UK, the first market outside of the U.S. to see the e-readers and tablets: today the company has announced that it will sell the devices via John Lewis, a retail heaven for the UK’s middle class, but not a bookstore.

The 37-store chain, which markets itself with the tagline “never knowingly undersold,” will be selling devices starting with the Nook e-readers, the NOOK Simple Touch and NOOK Simple Touch with GlowLight, beginning in October, as well as online. B&N says that more retail locations will follow in the autumn. B&N first announced its plans to finally launch in the UK earlier this month. It will also sell the devices directly through its own retail site.

Commercial terms of the partnership have not been disclosed.

B&N is ramping up its game in the UK as Amazon also prepares to launch the Kindle Fire in the UK. Amazon earlier this year inked a deal with Waterstones, a leading UK bookseller, to co-market the devices in its retail locations as well as online. Some saw this move as directly levelled against B&N, which had been widely expected to sign a similar deal with Waterstones.

The deal with John Lewis is a crucial one for B&N, which does not have any retail locations of its own in the UK: without a retail plan it would have been virtually impossible for B&N to replicate the model it has used to good effect in the U.S., using its physical bookstores to promote the Nook devices.

Still, it is but a small advance in terms of the kind of ubiquity that B&N has in the U.S., where it operates some 1,300 retail locations.

What’s interesting is that putting the devices at John Lewis pitches the Nook into much more of a consumer electronics — and less of a reading — marketing strategy. John Lewis is known for home goods, clothing and electronics — but not really books.

“John Lewis is where knowledgeable customers turn for trusted advice on the best products to purchase, and they are a perfect partner to help launch NOOK in the UK,” said Jamie Iannone, president of digital products at Barnes & Noble, in a statement. “We look forward to bringing more choice and convenience to discerning UK customers with our critically acclaimed line of reading devices and expansive selection of content.”