College bookstore division to split from Barnes & Noble
- Barnes & Noble plans to split off its college bookstores business into a separate publicly traded company, according to The New York Times.
- Previous plans called for its education business to be separated along with its Nook division, but the company now plans to keep the e-reader under its primary umbrella after buying back stakes from Microsoft and Pearson.
- Barnes & Noble Education is the bookseller's top performer, and the only division that saw revenue grow in the 26-week period ended Nov. 1.
Prior to Barnes & Noble buying back its stake in Nook, Pearson owned a 5% stake, purchased in December 2012 with a $89.5 million investment, and Microsoft owned 16.85%. The device hasn't seen the same success as its competitors and the company's exact plans for it aren't yet clear.
That it is splitting off the education business should come as no surprise, though. While most consumers aren't buying books in droves at brick-and-mortar locations anymore, college students, in most cases, have to buy textbooks and often need them as soon as possible, making the physical college bookstores — of which it operates 714 — more convenient. The New York Times also notes that it sells e-textbooks through its Yuzu platform.
CEO Michael P. Huseby said in a statement that the separation will make Barnes & Noble Education "an industry-leading, pure-play public company with more flexibility to pursue strategic opportunities in the growing educational services markets." One has to wonder if the new company will outlast the original, and if that might be what the bookseller is preparing for.
Either way, don't be surprised if the Nook eventually finds its way back under the education division's umbrella, as it could potentially be sold as a requirement for first-year students if, say, an institution decided to go fully paperless with course materials and textbooks.
- The New York Times Barnes & Noble to Spin Off College Bookstores Unit
Follow Roger Riddell on Twitter