Update: sources from Barnes & Noble have stated (unofficially) that this was merely due to a brief supply shortage of Nook Colors.  It looks like this was most likely a false alarm and they'll keep happily selling you Nook Colors.

With all the talk about using the Nook Color as an Android tablet (including the jaw-dropping port of Android 3.0 'Honeycomb' before it even launches), maybe you've wondered what Barnes & Noble thought of all this?  Well, we may have just gotten an idea . . .

According to the folks over at Good E-Reader, B&N is pulling its entire stock of Nook Colors from the shelves for the next two weeks.  Initial rumors were that this was to prepare for the promised Froyo update, but now sources within Barnes & Noble are apparently saying that this is to install some sort of anti-rooting measure.  While the reasoning behind their pulling the Nooks is still unconfirmed at this point, it appears to be fact that all Nook Colors are being systematically removed from shelves and online orders for about two weeks.

Despite having solid hardware specs for an Android tablet, the main reason the Nook Color has been so popular is because it's priced at a modest $250.  While this is great for us, the Android tablet junkies and hackers, from Barnes & Noble's business perspective, this could be seen as a big problem.

After a recent teardown of the Nook Color, it was estimated that the total cost of the parts of each NC add up to somewhere around $200.  While a $50 profit is better than a loss, it probably isn't considered worthwhile for a massive book chain trying to compete with amazon.com and Borders.  So they're obviously counting on the sale of digital content from within the Nook Color to make their real profits.

Of course the Nook Color is also capable of running ROMs off of SD cards as well, since it looks first to boot from there.  If nand-locking rooting preventions are being taken, will they also disable the ability to boot from the SD card?

It seems unlikely to me that B&N would pull their stock of Nook Colors just to get a Froyo software update ready.  That's two weeks of people deciding that they might rather have a Kindle or iPad than wait for their stock to be replenished, so a move like this isn't to be taken lightly.

We'll be keeping an eye on this one for sure, and we've contacted Barnes & Noble for comment.  What has Barnes & Noble told you?  Sound off in our Nook Color forums.  [Good E-Reader via cnet]

Update: a reader sent us a tip that, according to "a B&N worker," a system receiving error is responsible for the halt.  I highly doubt they'd intentionally pull their hottest item because of a receiving error, but if their stock was already low, this could be an explanation . . . We're still waiting on a response from Barnes & Noble.

 
There are 83 comments

DNicolasL says:

Bad move B&N! I know several people that have bought the NC to root it. I'm one of them. And I'm fixing to buy a Nook book right now. Its not like they are losing anything.

edit: I'm gonna make that a Kindle or Google book now!

jbjonesjr says:

You realize that it's attitudes like this which is causing B & N to force it's hand (if it is even making a change...).

If you really are an Android fan, not sure how using a locked down format like the Kindle's DRMed to death books is appealing to you.

I've bought 2 ebooks on my nook, and have really enjoyed the experience. If you want the nook to just be a wifi tablet, i'm sure they can make the prices come more inline with those out there already. If you want it to be the device it is now, don't bite the hand that feeds you and then laugh in their face.

rmaybach says:

terrible news, if true.

DNicolasL says:

The Android community will hopefully find a work around. But I hope the majority that read this root their Nook Color because they can. It stinks that some people might miss out on such a good deal.

Y would a seller pull a competitively priced item from sale?

Sounds like they were not really making any money on the actual reader and made all their money on the ebooks.

alovell83 says:

I understand that, but it's not like the Nook is even locked to their content. So, customers can still buy it, use it for it's sole purpose (e-reader) and give B&N the same revenue towards the bottom line.

Since we have heard some locations suffer stock-shortages, this anti-root does make things so that users who are most likely to buy books will have one available to them. Still, you can't force this market and people will find a way around this.

PortareAF says:

Hmmm there aren't a lot of Android tablets out yet...So lets pull ours now so we can take away a big reason why people buy our tablet and give everyone else get a chance to catch up, I'm sure that will help our business.

hmmm says:

People who would buy and root one of these are a very small minority of people who would buy a nook color. Having said that they will probably lock the bootloader. That would be fairly effective I would think.

dextroz#AC says:

Then why bother with locking it down and removing a portion of revenue even if it is very small?

hmmm says:

I don't know, why does any company lock any of their handsets? Probably because a small number of users are responsible for the largest amount of data used by carriers. And those small number of users are typically people who would root a phone or tablet. Get rid f the rooting and you probably get rid of a lot of the data hogs.

dusthead says:

just gotta say, that in this case, there's no carrier to deal with. it's WiFi. so the speculation about B&N banking on the book sales to make their profit is the most likely case. if you can do more than read with your NookColor...then you're spending less time in their ebook store and more everywhere else.

bluecamel says:

With that reasoning, the more you can do with the device, the more time you'll spend using it and possibly increase the number of books you would buy. If they provided the full Android market in the B&N wrapper, far fewer would root the device and therefore lose the central Nook focus.

mitaino9000 says:

Good thing I bought mine on Saturday. If I would have waited, then I would have missed the opportunity to get this without the chip that they might install.

c0ldburn3r says:

Not entirely sure what to think of this move. Now I'm afraid that when I can actually find one in the store I won't be able to boot off the sd card. Never wanted to mess with the internal image, just wanted to run off the sd.

Damn it B&N, I was going to buy one soon. I'm sure though xda will find a way around this. They usually find a way.

artaoh123 says:

Yes Yes Yes

I loved your commet.

rahlquist says:

WTF?!?!?!

What is with the $#@#$@ electronics companies who think they can control the hardware post sale?!?!?!?! If I buy it, its MINE.

B&N you've had a tough year financially, and now you have a huge hacker community about to embrace your hardware and you are going to give them the finger? REEEALY? Is your board that stupid?

If someone wants to buy a Camaro and make it a dragster GM doesnt do SQUAT.

Why would you want to stop someone from hot rodding your hardware? It makes no sense!

bluecamel says:

Ever heard of a loss leader?

DNicolasL says:

I definitely wouldn't apply any B&N updates from this point on!

rx515 says:

Glad I picked mine up last week. With SD card Nookie and Honeycomb I'll probably never boot into the actually nook again.

fastoy says:

I have a feeling this is being done to quietly address the fact that wifi doesn't work with secured WEP at all, as the manual states.

fastoy says:

My NOOKcolor (1.0.1 rooted with AutoNooter) connects to my 802.1x secured Wi-Fi at work and to my 802.11n WPA2 secured Wi-Fi at home with no problems. It connected to both of these before rooting.

I continue to buy books from B&N using the NOOKcolor and people are always stopping me and asking what kind of e-reader that is.

jkurl15 says:

if they were able to root the google TV device they will break this. Pretty sad they are doing this. I would have thought they would be excited as it shows how their device can run a super os. very bad move it they try to lock it down. It will give the dev's a project for a while.

Griffspen says:

That's a GREAT idea for B&N if there goal is to sell less Nooks. I mean that is the ONLY thing that will come from this.........

Just picked mine up last night and am in the process of rooting right now. Timing, I've got it.

ebarr727 says:

On Saturday when I bought mine it was the only one left in the store. I will check today, but two days ago my local B&N had a handful of NCs. My boss told me today (before I saw this story) that she was going to buy one so I could root it for her.

Truth be told, even for what comes stock with it, it is probably cool enough for most people. I only had mine unrooted for one hour, but from what I remember, it had the following great features stock:
-book reader (a very nice one)
-email (including exchange which I believe would have been available even if I had not rooted it)
-browser (the 1.1.0 update brought in pinch to zoom) also able to do tabs
-a few games including soduku, chess, and crossword, etc.
-a calendaring feature (not too great--doesn't sync with the outside world like Google Calendar--I think...I could be wrong)
-Pandora (was already loaded)
-Wifi

So at the very least one could use it as a tab to just surf, read books (most at $10 a pop) and listen to Pandora at the same time.

I know, that's not the point, but...just sayin'

DNicolasL says:

I mean if this thing is selling good imagine how much they are going to lose over 2 weeks. They need to just be honest and say how much it costs to make the thing or if they are losing money on it. A reasonable person won't expect them to sell something at a loss without some sort of catch.

technomom says:

If they're going to make Nook unrootable, they had better revisit the price way down from $249 because it will be putting itself out there again as just a better reader, not really an iPad substitute.

Kindle, at $139 for wireless only, lighter and with better battery life is a steal. Nook can't be much more than that for color, browser, Pandora, and a couple of games. It has to come under $200 now.

What they really ought to do is embrace the rooters, make a supported full on Android version for the $249 price point, then make a more locked down version at maybe $179.

PaperMate3rd says:

Damn man I went over this one alot in my mind before posting. I asked myself has the Hacking/Dev. community gone to far? do we need to slow down a bit? My conclusion is NO! Bottom line there's no hard (or soft for that matter) evidence that suggests that people who root they're nook don't/won't purchase ebooks. the GM example @zombies8mybrain gave above was spot on. After market control of hardware/software is very apple minded which is counter intuitive of androids philosophy in general. Plus why would you eliminate something people covet about your device when your competitor is so dominant in the marketplace.

markewallace says:

>> Bottom line there's no hard (or soft for that matter) evidence that suggests that people who root they're nook don't/won't purchase ebooks. <<

I would be an example of someone who violates this bottom-line.

I'm already a proud Kindle owner. With my Nook Color rooted -- and with the Android Kindle app installed -- I will continue to buy Kindle books through my Nook Color. Not that I have anything against B&N's books, because I don't, but I'm deeply enough entrenched with Amazon that I will most likely just stick with them.

Am I typical? Dunno, but I must be exactly the type of Nook buyer that B&N is trying to avoid by keeping us from rooting the Nook.

- Mark

PortareAF says:

On the other hand this frees up 250 of my dollars towards my Xoom fund :)

DNicolasL says:

I was going to buy another one so I have 250 towards the XOOM fund also

E_man says:

I know someone that was about to buy one too. Hope this is not the reason...

DNicolasL says:

I hope the Android community doesn't "pull the plug" on the NC after this if it does get locked down. Theres gotta be thousands of us out here.

BlaqkAudio says:

This reasoning has no logic. Let's assume people who by the Nook Color to root it will not buy ebooks. So what? Is the Nook Color constantly out of stock or something that people who intend to buy ebooks are not able to do so? If B&N made the Nook Color "unrootable", that just deprives them of even the small $50 profit.

bluecamel says:

Only, that's not how it works. It's a similar situation to printers and ink. If even 1/3 of the people who bought HP printers bought ink from another company, they would have to drastically increase the price of their printers.

jdellingson7 says:

Well i just wrote B&N customer service to voice my concerns and their future loss of sales with me if they intend on locking down the bootloader. I think people underestimate the size of the community of those who do root their devices. It grows everyday. So I encourage everyone here to send them an email as well. Maybe it will overwhelm them.

trpttrooper says:

My gf has been eyeing the nook ever since I bought/ rooted mine. I told her about this and she quickly called the nearest 4 B&Ns and all 4 were " sold out"

judasmachine says:

Damn, and I was just waiting on the tax return to get put into my account to buy one. Now I don't think I will on principle.

DNicolasL says:

I wish there was some kind of swap out program after they come back in stock to where people who want to use it just as an ereader can get a new one and sell their old rootable one.

NewLife says:

This is truly a bizarre move.

From a purely logistical standpoint, it may well turnout that they will never recover a profit from this venture. Recalls always prove to be a very costly move and are to be desperately avoided. Bizarre...

dathrill4u says:

The rooting was the only reason anyone was even giving the nook a chance..now it is over.

Would this now be considered an overpriced Kindle?

BNLoyalist says:

Despite the words on this board, rooting is not the only reason people buy Nook Color. It just happens to be a darned good eReader, which, unlike those who are buying it as an Android table, is the main reason people do buy it!
I respect the Android development community, and their position in the marketspace, but a company like BN has to make business decisions based on every market segment, not just the (highly influential) development community.
The NC device is superior to any Kindle, in specifications, support, and overall reading experience. It is especially superior in its embrace of the ePub format, which has successfully unlocked the world's bookstores (save one - Amazon's) to all consumers, regardless of device. It's not an overpriced Kindle -- it's a spectacularly well-priced, and well-featured, eReader, that's clearly a best of breed in this marketspace.

Terrigno says:

lol. Its not official that there locking down anything. You guys are jumping way out of hand here for no reason. If they know people are hacking it, there gonna probably make it better because there making money off it of specifically for that reason. Easy guys, Barns And Nobile isnt stupid,

DNicolasL says:

It's not worth taking a chance though. You should buy one if you want one and have the chance.

CyberThreat says:

anti-root mechanism? what, like exploding red dye packets?

I really hope that this is not the case. I personally bought the NookColor for 2 reasons,
1) A cheap but good Android Tablet device could be had via simple Root.
2) Nook Kids. I have a 1 year old and a 3 year old, and they both love turning the digital pages and reading the books with Daddy.

Yes my primary reason for purchase was to unlock the tablet potential buried inside the NookColor, but I have also purchased around 15 Nook ePubs and Nook Kids books (and have stripped the DRM from all of them) for use on this device and my original Nook WiFi. Everybody wins.

Don't be lame B&N.

eric6052 says:

Right now all we can do is wait and see. If B&N really really wants to lock it down they need to hurry up with their market and froyo update. If they want to make more money on he content of the device then offer more content.

eshugart says:

I think its because of the power and volume buttons. I had one and my friend has one and after about 2 weeks our buttons got loose. It made the nook reboot just by moving the nook around. I knew this was going to be a big deal so I took mine back. Just my 2 cents. :-)

junglejunkie says:

Well, I ordered my NC on Saturday from Best Buy. It was on "backorder," so I'm hoping I don't get screwed on this one.

Dave4321 says:

If the Droid X with the hardware locked bootloader can be rooted anything can. I can't imagine that any software fix is going to stop rooting for long.

rx515 says:

Does this mean my nook color just increased in resale value?

ben dover says:

good thing I bought mine yesterday! haha!

Xephik says:

Haha that's ironic, I just bought one today to put some Honeycomb goodness on it.

I'm not saying their source is wrong, but I'm going to wait until you get confirmation before I panic, because this just doesn't make any sense. High sales are good for the company in a variety of ways. If this is so, I'd sure like to know their reasoning.

Gameboy70 says:

Agreed. A little rooting doesn't seem to be worth the cost of pulling inventory. More likely they're putting the 1.1 rom or Froyo on the product themselves rather than deal with a bunch of support calls from non-techies attempting a firmware update.

At any rate, I already have my Nook, and if I didn't, I'd save my money for the Xoom if this rumor came to pass.

pytr13 says:

Agreed..I'll wait til someone confirms, by using one of the "new" ones, before I open the 1 I have on order.

s2svetko says:

I just called my local B&N and they still have it in stock...

jeffcalloway says:

Free Shipping

jeffcalloway says:

This guy has 10 on ebay for $289. A premium, but they are avaailable.

http://cgi.ebay.com/NEW-Barnes-Noble-Nook-Color-eReader-Ship-Worldwide-/...

jeffcalloway says:

Free Shipping in U.S.

pytr13 says:

My GF bought me one on BN.com 2 weeks ago...this time last week she got a email saying they were "in too high demand" and new nooks would be shipped Feb 15th. That night we visited 2 stores...both said they had zero.

Now I'm stuck wondering if I should get it online OR if BN is actually doing something good...like a upgrade that doesn't effect the rooting. If they do I really hope the XDA guys crack it quickly.

If there's no rooting....I'll get a kindle..smaller & lighter..oh and $100 cheaper.

fillossofer says:

I'm very skeptical of them pulling the NC for this reason. It just doesn't make sense. Of course it is the #1 reason AC readers would get excited, so it makes sense for AC to publish such a headline. B&N could care less if people root their devices. You mean a company who makes a profit (no matter how minuscule) on hardware would pull the device from shelves just to add something that makes it impossible for people to void their warranties through hacking? Even from a basic marketing angle, having thousands of NCs in the wild is good for business. I've hacked mine and haven't put the Kindle app on it out of sheer principle. I LIKE B&N because they haven't made a big stink out of people hacking these devices. As such I will purchase books from them. I seriously doubt they would sacrifice so much goodwill in order to lock the bootloader. There is too much downside risk and no proven upside. It is even more unbelievable given the timing. Just before Valentines day is NOT when you pull a popular product from shelves. It is far more likely that there was a batch of defective products that went into distribution that they need to track down. Or perhaps they are adding a 3G chip to the device and want to roll it out properly.

bluecamel says:

It's not really safe to say that they're making a profit on the device alone. The article says the parts come to around $200, which says nothing for R&D, marketing, software development, etc. Say what you want about their strategy, but this actually may have backfired on them. If they don't get the book sales they were expecting, they may lose money. Oddly, it may even end up being a factor that keeps other companies with similar sales models from using Android.

Chopper Joe says:

The amount of wild ass speculation is just remarkable. As noted by a number of posters, there are several reasons why B&N might be taking this action.

I don't pretend to know why B&N is taking this action but I can give a reason why I don't think it's an anti-rooting measure (besides the often noted "why ruin the best thing going for the nookColor" comments):

Anyone with a rooted nookColor get a forced 1.1 upgrade (not 1.01) that breaks root? I know several folks, all of us with rooted nC and none of us got the update forced on us even though it's been several weeks for it to "roll out over the next few days."

To date, I've seen no indication that B&N is actively trying keep the nC from being rooted and I have no reason to change that opinion until there is evidence by their actions that they have changed their approach.

fastoy says:

I have a rooted NOOKcolor (AutoNooter on top of 1.0.1). I got a notification that there was an update available early this week. Now that notification has gone away and I'm still running 1.0.1 and am still rooted. I didn't poke around too much for fear of causing the update to run.

Keeping my fingers crossed.

ebarr727 says:

My boss just went to B&N minutes ago and bought a NC!!!

jnemesh says:

Just checked in the Seattle area, and they still have them in stock in the B&N at Northgate and Woodinville. Going to get one tonight! I was on the fence, and this announcement pushed me over! (that and the fact that there is no other tablet out there in this price range that is actually any good!)

jnemesh says:

Just checked in the Seattle area, and they still have them in stock in the B&N at Northgate and Woodinville. Going to get one tonight! I was on the fence, and this announcement pushed me over! (that and the fact that there is no other tablet out there in this price range that is actually any good!)

novarider says:

There are people out there like me who bought the nook color BECAUSE it can be rooted. There are basically two good choices for e-readers the nook and the kindle. If I wanted just an e-reader I would have bought a kindle, why? Because it's lighter, the battery lasts longer, and it's $100 cheaper! However I wanted more than just a reader so I went with the nook. I could care less if my ebooks come from kindle or b&n they read the same. If b&n lock down the nook color I might just sell mine in protest and buy a "real" tablet and use the kindle app exclusively!

BNLoyalist says:

The article immediately assumes that BN is pulling it stock to rectify some presupposed problem or feature. But imagine the reality:
--supply has exceeded demand across the product line since before Christmas;
--The Northeast, and most of the country, have endured one of the worst winters on record, disrupting supply chains from coast-to-coast at every seaport in the land;
--I know of no units pulled from the shelves; only that the units are selling out and not being replaced, due to supply chain and restocking shortages.

It's easy to theorize conspiracies and evil intents....it's harder to root out the simple truths of supply chain management.

trpttrooper says:

"root" out...I get it :p

Sorry its been a long day

icebike says:

The original source is waffling back and forth. The anti-rooting paragraph comes and goes from their site, depending on the time of day.

dcreed says:

Interesting: just checked at BestBuy stores around me (Denver-ish). Only one has them in stock.

xyzlene says:

think about this.....

moto xoom. lots of money. Rubins prototype at ces was an estimated 10 million dollar xoom. this unit wil be the first to release h.comb. to the market.

250.00 color tablet xda supported. Nook never intended to run h.comb... NO CONTRACT..... WiFi - no data plans!!!!! - NO PROFIT.

do u see the scale of economics here???????

SOMEONE is pulling serious WEIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!

treyrey86 says:

its a day later and i still bought one at my local B&N in Kansas city!

techienana says:

It's a week later (Feb 10) and I had to exchange the Nook Color I just bought two weeks ago due to a manufacturing defect of the back cover. The store received a shipment yesterday and I was just a little worried about whether the rumors and speculation would prove true, making any exchange risky. Thankfully, they don't appear to be! I was able to insert my micro sd card into the slot and start running Honeycomb with no problem.

JoelByford says:

Looks like they had a big email campaign for V-Day. They extended a guarantee a NC would arrive by 2/14 if you ordered by midnight 2/10 online with free express shipping. I'm betting they were simply holding units to be sure they could meet their promise.

grlla says:

Decided to buy an NC for the wife/Vday. Having purchased the ViewSonic POS before the holidays and returning it, I thought ok - here's a fun little device for the little woman. I have XOOM fever.

Then I loaded a few trial mags on the NC. Folks this thing is awesome. Same price (perhaps a tad less) mags as physical copies cost with SD card storage/retrieval. Easy and vibrant reading.

B & N is stating 8k books limit w/SD card. I'm sold on this device, and am balancing/justifying my upcoming XOOM purchase cost with the cost of the NC. Now I just need to remember to stock up on the reading room tissue. HAHA

rmeden says:

Don't know if the Nook Color is back at B&N but Best Buy has them. Supposedly Walmart too.