Barnes & Noble's e-reader delay gives Amazon another advantage

It's looking like Amazon (AMZN) could have a clear field selling e-readers this holiday season. First Sony (SNE) announced that its e-reader may not be available for shipment until after Christmas because the Japanese consumer electronics giant couldn't meet its manufacturing schedule.

Now, Barnes & Noble (BKS) says its e-reader, the Nook, will be late in hitting its stores. The Nook won't be available in some of its locations until Dec. 7. The bookseller's target had been to have the e-reader in its outlets on Nov. 30. Barnes & Noble points to high demand from online buyers as the culprit for the short supply.

Any stumble by the newer entries makes it more likely that Amazon will dominate a market that's expected to produce 3 million sales this holiday season, according to projections from research group Forrester.

Are the Barnes & Noble and Sony problems fatal to their e-reader launches? Probably not. Are they likely to keep each company from getting substantial market share in the market, at least short term? Almost certainly, yes.

Amazon is proving that one of the most important retail rules is still in effect: Those without inventory are destined to lose the sales battle.

Douglas A. McIntyre is an editor at 24/7 Wall St.

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