Barnes & Noble has announced it’s creating a new subsidiary which will house the company’s digital and college businesses. That means that the NOOK eReaders and tablets and digital book divisions won’t be under the same roof as B&N’s nearly 700 book stores in the US — but NOOK eReaders will still be tied to the company’s retail stores.
In other words, you’ll probably be able to pick up a NOOK device at a Barnes & Noble store, and when you go to bn.com to shop for eBooks, purchases will still be delivered to your NOOK.
So what exactly is new?
For consumers, not much — except that Microsoft has agreed to invest $300 million in the new company, giving Microsoft a 17.6 percent equity in the company. As part of that arrangement, one of the first things we’ll see from the unnamed new subsidiary company is a NOOK app for Windows 8.
Although to be fair, I would have expected a NOOK app for Windows 8 whether or not Microsoft threw money at B&N. Competitors Amazon and Kobo are already two of the first companies to release apps for the new Windows 8 Metro user interface.
But the big picture here is that Microsoft is getting more involved in the eBook business — and Barnes & Noble is strengthening its position by further separating its digital book business from its bricks and mortar retail stores. As eBook consumption rises and paper book sales fall, that could be a smart move to ensure B&N has a future.