Pearson Invests $89.5 Million in NOOK Media

International education publishing giant Pearson entered the e-publishing market with a splash Friday, as the company announced in a joint press release that it will invest $89 million in NOOK Media, Barnes & Noble’s e-reader subsidiary. The transaction will effectively give Pearson control of five percent of NOOK Media, with the option of purchasing an additional five percent at a later date.

Though the announcement caused a noticeable uptick in stock for both companies, analysts speculate the transaction could be influenced by a disappointing holiday season for Barnes & Noble, with the company recently announcing that NOOK sales would not meet projected revenue goals.

The transaction represents yet another step in Pearson’s major push to expand its digital content offerings. The company generated one-third of its sales from digital products and services in 2011, and as my colleague Jason Tomassini reported, Pearson has been aggressive in its quest for marketplace dominance. In recent years, Pearson purchased the Baltimore-based virtual education provider Connections Academy and a New York City-based company, Schoolnet, that creates personalized education software.

“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. It is another example of our strategy of making our content and services broadly available to students and faculty through a wide range of distribution partners,” Will Ethridge, chief executive officer of Pearson’s North America division, said in a press release.

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