Education publisher to invest in Barnes & Noble’s struggling Nook tablet division

by Doug Drinkwater

December 31 2012

Barnes & Noble launched the Nook HD tablets in late September
Barnes & Noble launched the Nook HD tablets in late September

UK publisher Pearson is to invest just under $90 million in Barnes & Noble’s Nook tablet and eReader division, as it bids to cater for the education market.

The publisher, which owns the Financial Times and Penguin Books, is to invest $89.5 million for a 5% stake in Nook Media, which looks after B&N's tablets, eReaders, digital bookstore and 674 bookstores in U.S. colleges.

Pearson isn’t the first major player to invest in B&N’s struggling digital media business, with Microsoft having done the same back in April when Barnes & Noble first span out the Nook division.

The news means that B&N now holds a 78.2% stake in the Nook business, with Microsoft and Pearson holding 16.8% and 5%, respectively. Pearson, which is said to be the largest higher education publisher in the world, does have the option to purchase an additional 5% at a later date, depending on certain conditions.

"Pearson and Barnes & Noble have been valued partners for decades, and in recent years both have invested heavily and imaginatively to provide engaging and effective digital reading and learning experiences," said Will Etheridge, chief executive of Pearson North America, in a statement.

"With this investment, we have entered into a commercial agreement with Nook Media that will allow our two companies to work closely together in order to create a more seamless and effective experience for students".

Barnes & Noble did have some bad news at the same time however, with the firm quietly detailing in an SEC filing that the Nook business will not meet the company’s projection for the fiscal year.

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