Barnes & Noble was one of many outlets selling the suddenly-in-high-demand HP TouchPad (which was canceled by HP and can now be had for $99 while supplies last). But customers have been reporting on Twitter that B&N canceled their orders for the device because they ran out.

CNET posted this letter a customer received:

Dear Valued Customer,
We are writing to you regarding your recent Barnes & Noble order for "HP TouchPad Tablet with 16GB Memory".
Due to unexpected customer demand for this item, our inventory was depleted prior to your order being processed so we are unable to fulfill this item as requested. Consequently, we have canceled your order and you will not be billed for this amount.
You may see an authorization on your credit or debit card for the order, but please be assured you will not be charged. The authorization will be released in accordance with your bank's policies.
We sincerely regret any inconvenience that this may have caused.
Barnes & Noble
Customer Service

And now, a short play I've written about this issue:

THE WORLD: Why were you selling things that you didn't have in stock? Especially when HP isn't making new ones?

BARNES & NOBLE: Well, we didn't think people would order them.

THE WORLD: That seems like a dumb way to run a business.

BARNES & NOBLE: You're right. Would you like to sit down in a big leather chair for hours and hours and not buy anything?

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Follow John Moe at @johnmoe