Wednesday, May 2, 2012

New Partnership of Barnes & Noble and Microsoft Will Promote Digital Textbooks

April 30, 2012 / Katherine Mangan

Barnes & Noble is spinning off its college-textbook and digital divisions into a new subsidiary, bolstered by a $300-million investment by Microsoft, that is aimed at turning more college students on to electronic textbooks.

The partnership, which officials announced on Monday as the two companies were settling a patent dispute, isn't likely to change the day-to-day operations of the nearly 700 campus bookstores that are managed by Barnes & Noble, said Jamie Iannone, president of Barnes & Noble Digital Projects. But he said it should "accelerate the adoption of e-reading in the college space."


While e-books have soared in popularity among adults, who have snapped up devices like Barnes & Noble's Nook and Amazon's Kindle, college students haven't shown much interest in trading in their print textbooks for electronic versions.

Charles Schmidt, a spokesman for the National Association of College Stores, said three-quarters of the college students the association surveyed last fall prefer the printed version of textbooks. But he said he expects sales of digital textbooks to increase as younger students who grew up reading online move on to college, as faculty members become more comfortable with e-textbooks, and as content becomes more interactive.


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