Barnes & Noble says shipments of NookColor start

A man is seen as a silhouette during the launch of nook, the Wireless eBook Reader by Barnes & Noble, at a news conference in New York in this October 20, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Barnes & Noble Inc BKS.N said on Tuesday that it has begun shipping its NookColor ahead of schedule to shoppers who pre-ordered the e-reader device on its web site and in its bricks-and-mortar stores.

But the company said there may initially be "limited inventory" of the $249 device, launched last month, in its stores and at other retailers selling the e-reader, such as Best Buy Co Inc BBY.N and Wal-Mart Stores Inc WMT.N, because of what it said was strong demand for the NookColor.

“We’re encouraged by the consumer response thus far, and the organization is committed to doing everything we can to meet demand,” Chief Executive William Lynch said in a statement.

It also said that the November 26 shipping date for NookColor devices ordered on line this week could change as it seeks to fulfill orders.

Last year, when the largest U.S. bookstore chain launched the Nook, it contended with production snafus and shipment delays.

Barnes & Noble last month unveiled the NookColor, which features a color touch screen and Wi-Fi web browsing, to compete with Inc's AMZN.O Kindle in the growing e-reader and e-books market.

Reporting by Phil Wahba, editing by Gerald E. McCormick