at bn.com type apps in the search box, select apps for nook, and the release date has been in that pull down list since the feature was introduced over a month ago. and, as you state, it has NEVER worked. the best way to find new apps is look first thing friday mornings, sort by Best Selling, View set to 100 then go to last page and the new apps aren't selling yet so they're at the bottom....that's the only way to do it until BN gets off the can.
maybe I'm now having a blonde moment, but could have sworn that the release dates recently all read as 1/1/11 for every... single... app... even on release day.
if not well then... still some changes to the site YAY!