Nook Tablet ships early

Apparently not wanting to give the Kindle Fire any more of a head start, Barnes & Noble has begun shipping the Nook Tablet 1-2 days ahead of schedule.

The brand new successor to the Nook Color e-reader, which is branded more as a tablet than a gadget to buy digital books, had been planned to begin shipping on November 17.

However, those who pre-ordered the device and chose in-store pickup are allowed to grab their purchase in stores today. Those who chose to have it shipped will get them a day or two earlier than expected.

Of course, the Nook Tablet’s biggest competitor for the holiday season and likely beyond is Amazon’s Kindle Fire, a flagship full-color tablet from Amazon that wildly expands the retailer’s prior exclusive focus on e-readers.

The Kindle Fire began shipping yesterday and could potentially sell more units than any other tablet for the big month-and-a-half Christmas shopping window.

This is the latest chapter in what has been a tug-of-war between Amazon and B&N. While other players like the iPad, Sony Reader, Kobo, and Android tablets are all grabbing at the same audience, it is the battle between the Nook and Kindle that has been the most heated as their product lines are arguably the most similar.

On the Barnes & Noble website, customers are currently told new Nook Tablet orders will ship November 18. Amazon lists the Kindle Fire as in stock and ready to ship with a 3-5 day lead time.