Microsoft Invests $300M in Barnes & Noble Digital Reading Partnership

Microsoft has completed the formation of a partnership with the book retailer to advance digital reading and digital content in higher education markets.

Microsoft has completed the creation of a partnership with bookseller Barnes & Noble to promote digital content at colleges and universities, including a $300 million investment by Microsoft in the B&N subsidiary Nook Media.

Microsoft and Nook Media–a reference to the Nook e-book reader sold by Barnes & Noble–will focus on advancing “digital reading experiences to the hundreds of millions of customers they jointly serve,” the companies stated in a news release issued Oct. 4.

Nook Media comprises the Digital and College businesses of Barnes & Noble. Microsoft made its $300 million investment in Nook Media at a valuation of $1.7 billion in exchange for about a 17.6 percent equity stake in the subsidiary; Barnes & Noble owns the remaining shares.

The partnership will also involve delivering a Nook application for the coming Windows 8 operating system for tablets and desktop computers as well as for Windows Phone 8.

"Nook Media is a leader in developing the next generation of digital reading and we look forward to the company bringing one of the world's largest digital libraries to Windows 8 devices via their upcoming Windows 8 app," said Andy Lees, the president of Microsoft.

Likewise, William Lynch, CEO of Barnes & Noble, acknowledged the importance of its partnership with Microsoft and the prospects for the Windows 8 OS.

“As demand for digital content continues to increase, we are focused on bringing ground-breaking reading and learning content and technologies to more people in more formats than ever before,” Lynch said.

The partnership indicates a new chapter is being written in the relationship between Microsoft and Barnes & Noble. Microsoft sued the retailer in March 2011 over patent infringement allegations in the Nook, whose software is based on rival Google’s Android operating system. The companies jointly announced in April of this year that the lawsuit was settled and that Barnes & Noble had acquired a license to the Microsoft patents involved, which was followed by Microsoft’s $300 million investment and the partnership that was finalized Oct. 4.

“The shift to digital is putting the world’s libraries and newsstands in the palm of every person’s hand, and is the beginning of a journey that will impact how people read, interact with and enjoy new forms of content,” Lees said at the time of the settlement.

Nook's biggest competitor in the e-reader market is the Amazon Kindle line. But it also has to go up against a variety of tablets running the Google Android operating system and the Apple iPad that come with Kindle e-reader applications installed.