Barnes & Noble released the Nook HD and Nook HD+ this fall with hopes of competing with Amazon's new lineup of Kindle Fire products, but it sounds like things didn't go as the company hoped. The company just announced its sales results for the holiday period and said that Nook sales actually declined during a time when consumers are spending cash in droves looking for that perfect Christmas present. "Nook device sales got off to a good start over the Black Friday period, but then fell short of expectations for the balance of holiday," said Barnes & Noble CEO William Lynch. "We are examining the root cause of the December shortfall in sales, and will adjust our strategies accordingly going forward." There's no word yet on how its strategy may change, but we wouldn't be surprised to see price cuts as part of that adjustment.

This sales shortfall is just the latest evidence that Barnes & Noble may be fighting an uphill battle in the small tablet marketplace. We found the Nook HD and Nook HD+ to be competent but flawed devices, something that Barnes & Noble can't afford in the now-cutthroat seven-inch tablet space. With excellent options like the aforementioned Kindle Fire lineup, the still-strong Nexus 7, and Apple's iPad mini, Barnes & Noble will need to step up its game if the Nook tablets will stand a chance at competing with the many players who are currently offering more compelling hardware at similar price points. That's without even mentioning Amazon's excellent Kindle Paperwhite, which guns right at B&N's Nook SimpleTouch with GlowLight. While both are great ereaders, it seems Amazon has the upper hand right now.