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Sony's E-Reader Shortage and the Digital Book Battle

Huge demand is every consumer products-maker's fantasy; the nightmare is when shortages from high demand results in shortages that drive consumers to your rivals. That's exactly what could happen to Sony, which is now warning it may not be able to fill all the orders for its e-reader in time for the holidays.

A visit to the sonystyle.comsite finds that the high-end "Reader Daily Edition," which sells for $399 will ship Dec. 18 through Jan 8th. The bad news: "actual delivery date cannot be guaranteed."

All those shoppers wanting to buy a present to put under the Christmas tree will surely be tempted to look elsewhere. Competition is heating up in the e-book market, and Amazon.com's Kindle is hoping to defend its territory as the industry leader — it has some 60 percent of marketshare. Barnes & Noble recently announced its new reader called the "Nook," which you can pre-order by December 18th for guaranteed Dec 25th delivery. Amazon's Kindle, which now retails for $259 is in stock and ready to ship.

Sony does offer the least expensive e-book option, the "Sony Digital Reader Pocket Edition" for $199, which is already in stock. But the fact that the highest-end device, the fancy "touch" edition isn't going to be readily available, will put it at a real disadvantage during the crucial holiday season.

Questions? Comments? MediaMoney@cnbc.com

  • Working from Los Angeles, Boorstin is CNBC's media and entertainment reporter and editor of CNBC.com's Media Money section.