K-12 Dealmaking: Pearson Sells Nook Media Stake Back to Barnes & Noble

By guest blogger Kevin Connors

In December 2012, publishing giant Pearson purchased a 5 percent stake in Barnes & Noble’s Nook Media, which included the Nook’s digital hardware and content, as well as the B&N college bookstores. At the time, the future looked promising, as Pearson planned to use this partnership to improve student and faculty access to their digital content.

But last week, just five days shy of its two-year anniversary, the partnership ended, as Pearson sold back its stake in the struggling e-reader for nearly $28 million.

In its Security and Exchange filing, the bookseller said it would pay Pearson $13.75 million in cash and 602,927 shares of Barnes & Noble’s common stock. B&N also recently bought back the near 17 percent of Nook Media it sold to Microsoft in 2012, giving the bookseller 100 percent ownership of its flagging e-reader division.

These deals likely foreshadow a move investors have urged for years: splitting Nook Media into its own company, separate from B&N’s retail consumer bookstores and Website. This split is expected to happen by the end of August.

In regards to Pearson, this news likely says very little about the publisher’s strategy for delivering digital content.

While the company no longer owns a stake in an e-reader, it is still developing digital content and curriculum at a rapid pace, as it seeks meet the demands of school districts taking aggressive steps into online learning through 1-to-1 initiatives, flipped classrooms, and various forms of blended and so-called ‘personalized’ learning.

For more news on mergers, acquisitions, and venture capital in education, follow Marketplace K-12’s “K-12 Dealmaking” series. 

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