Consumers looking to buy any of Amazon’s Kindle products from Target in the coming weeks should look elsewhere: Starting later this month, Target will end sales of Amazon’s e-readers and Android tablet.
Target says its decision to ditch the Kindle is a result of its desire to improve the customer experience, in a statement sent to The Verge this morning. A leaked memo from last night indicated that Target would replenish its stocks until May 13th. Online, the shifts seem to have taken effect immediately, with not a single Kindle appearing in a search on Target’s website.
“Target continually evaluates its product assortment to deliver the best quality and prices for our guests,” the statement reads.
There are a lot of interesting bits in the statement, but none so notable as the curiously explicit mentioning of Barnes & Noble’s Nook towards its end. “We will continue to offer our guests a full assortment of eereaders and supporting accessories including the Nook,” the statement says. (Target also sells Sony and Kobo’s e-readers, but those barely count in the grand e-reader battle between Amazon and B&N.)
Which leads to a fairly obvious question: Is this whole thing the result of a particularly savvy deal by Barnes & Noble? It sure seems that way. Inking an exclusivity agreement with Target would be a smart effort at squeezing Amazon out of the physical retail space. With a fresh $300 million investment in its Nook subsidiary from Microsoft, B&N finally has the clout to pursue such arrangements.
And that’s a big deal. One of the key reasons Amazon works with retailers like Target is it gives consumers the ability to use the Kindle in person before they buy it. Amazon, lacking physical stores, can’t do this on its own — hence why partners like Target and Best Buy are so important.
If Barnes & Noble is actually behind Target’s change of heart, the move could be the precursor to a major announcement for the two companies.
We’ve reached out to Amazon and will update when the company responds.