Microsoft and Barnes & Noble agree to end their Nook Media partnership

Microsoft won't be in business with Barnes & Noble anymore. The bookseller announced today that it is acquiring the part of its Nook Media company that Microsoft had purchased over two years ago and added that the two companies "have agreed to terminate their commercial agreement including any associated obligations for international content acquisition and sale."

Barnes & Noble added:

"Such termination will allow the Company to continue its rationalization of the NOOK Digital business and enhances Barnes & Noble's operational and strategic flexibility. The termination also relieves Microsoft of any obligation to continue to fund support and other payments set forth in the commercial agreement between the partners."

Microsoft invested $300 million into Nook Media back in April 2012, which gave it a 17.6 percent interest in the company but today's agreement stated that the bookseller will buy back Microsoft's interest for $62 million and around 2.7 million Barnes & Noble shares. Aside from a Windows 8 Nook reader and ebook store app that launched later in 2012, no other tangible results came from the partnership. In April, Barnes & Noble revealed that development of the Windows 8 Nook app would be halted, and that a planned Windows Phone version would not be released.

Microsoft is supposed to be working on its own eReader app but so far there's been no word on when that will be released.

Source: Barnes & Noble

John Callaham
  • This is so sad :-(
  • I mean, I bought three Nook devices so far and I love them. I was really hoping that this Nook business could one day become a part of Microsoft books ecosystem.
  • I find myself in this exact same position. I was really hoping for a Nook app for my 1520. So much content in their library I can't read on my phone. Oh well, I'll just have to continue lugging my Nook HD+ around.
  • I switched from Nook to Kindle right before this partnership was announced. Since then I've been waiting to see how it pans out and was going to switch back if something awesome came from this. Looks like I'm sticking with Amazon.
  • A deal that never was
  • not that they acomplished anything and BN is circling the toilet about to follow borders.
  • Yeah, those Samsung Nooks should have been Windows Nooks. Plus, I never understood why Microsoft didn't just build the Windows/Windows Phone nook reader apps for B&N. I gave up on the B&N reader because it wasn't on my phone. And now, I know of at least three brick and mortar B&N's closing up shop right after Christmas. Yes, I am sure Amazon caused a lot of pressure for B&N. But really, B&N corporate is the one at fault for losing Nook marketshare*, mismanaging book distribtribution**, and mismanaged pricing between brick and morter and online***. Oh well, it was nice to have a B&N store around while they were here. I'm going to miss all those employees who became friends over the years. * Not too many Christmases ago the Nook was *the* reader to have, and was sold out in almost every store that carried readers ** Over the last few years, I spent a lot of time at my nearest B&N and getting to know the employees there. Despite a large number of customers wanting to see specific kinds of books on the shelves, the store could only stock what corporate told them to stock. The only workaround was for a customer to order a book, wait for delivery, and then refuse to buy it. As a result, the local store carried a lot of what our community doesn't really care for, and very little of what we really would have bought off the shelves. *** Online is a separate company, and coporate refused to do anything about the price disparity between the online company and the retail stores. So, frequently shoppers would window shop in the store then buy online from (complete with additonal member discount) or from Amazon.
  • I feel like they could be a lot more aggressive with the nook in advertising. Amazon is killing it with their commercials. The Nook honestly doesn't even come to mind when I think of eReaders
  • Nook Media should have done what Kobo did: actually release the dang product around the world. Unless you live in the U.S. or the UK, Nook devices simply aren't available. Meanwhile Kobo's in over 100 countries, and has significant distribution partnerships in dozens of those.
  • And the Kobo devices are pretty awesome, and well supported.
  • Another missed opportunity. I wonder how Windows 10 will fix this.....
  • Oh well. As long as Microsoft's future app turns out nice.
  • If we could ever get any kind of word on the state of that app... I have a lot of Nook books. I don't want to have to migrate to Kindle. It already bothers me that so much of my digital content is in different unsupported areas. I've got lots of Amazon movies and shows but unless I use the no longer provided Unbox player, I can't download them. I call pull my MP3's from amazon easy enough but if we'd ever get and app it would make it that much easier. I've not tried MS Music store simply because I never got a sold DRM answer.
  • Music purchased from Xbox music has absolutely no drm
  • I don't know anything about this deal but it's a sad state of affairs when a $300 million investment can't even get you an app on your phone OS!
  • because BN is actively waging war on MS after all the lawsuits that preceeded this. BN simply hates users who want to use windows and as such, hate customers. that's one company I won't do business with.
  • The Nook reader used to be superior to the Kindle, but now it is no better, but their store and selection are not as good as Amazon's. Their yet lack of support for WinPhone was never a good strategy and now, well who cares?
  • I am not about to buy books from B&N if I cannot read them on all my devices. It is too inconvienant to read anything from them, instead I have several hundred books from Amazon. Even on my andriod tablet I no longer use B&N, I do not want to be locked in, with amazon I can read on all my devices.
  • On Amazon you're locked into their proprietary ebook format. Kobo is the only one that supports every major platform (including Windows and WP) and also supports the industry standard epub format for side-loading DRM-free ebooks.
  • I also do have the Kobo reader as well. 
  • I am just going to point out that format lock in is true for all three platforms.  Books purchased from Kobo's store cannot be read on other devices, same as B&N and Amazon.  ePub may be an open standard, but every major store that uses it applies a layer of DRM that makes it effectively proprietary.  Even though both Kobo and B&N use ePub, you cannot read books from Kobo on a Nook or vice versa.  Amazon's Mobi format is also a former open standard, and can be created and read as easily as ePub (both are simply versions of HTML5 btw). An app like Calibre can strip DRM or convert between formats easily if thats your thing.  I am in Amazon's ecosystem and really don't have any fear of losing my books, but if I did I would simply export them all via Calibre and manage my own library in whatever format was most convenient for the devices I was using at the time.
  • I may trust Amazon with my digital library but damned if I trust Barnes and Noble. They earned that distrust the way, when they shut down Fictionwise without giving all the users adequate notice and I lost a collection of over 1700 books I had been building over the years. They absolutely refused to help me recover them. The few DRM books I did download previously were only readable in an old and abandonned eReader application and when my credit card was stolen a while back I never thought anything of immediately replacing it untill the hundred or so DRM books I still had became suddenly inaccessible because I had to have the exact credit card number I purchased them with...more than 8 years ago. Books are the one case in which I wholly support stripping DRM. With the way business is going, I wouldn't trust B&N with anything. Who knows what you'll lose when they shut down.
  • Wow, I somehow did not know about that happening.  What a terrible way to treat a longtime customer!  I am blown away that nobody worked with you to resolve that, considering the investment that represents.  Did you consider an attorney? If I were you I'd probably keep local DRM stripped backups of my library after an experience like that, and I'd feel no guilt about it.
  • I'm a Amazon Prime subscriber and I must say the B&N App for Windows 8 is much better than the Kindle Book App, both in design and function.
    I was really hoping Microsoft would have bought out the Company instead of cutting and running.
    Especially since it's clear Amazon has no desire to upgrade any of their Windows App. So this news sucks.
  • Not surprised buy this at all, what with all the commercials on right now showing off the Samsung Nook tablet. This was a big fail for Microsoft.
  • Why is this a big fail for Microsoft?
  • This was an east point of entry into the e-reader market and it was seriously mishandled. A lost opportunity and waste of time and money.
  • They did nothing in two years and wasted money. If that was invested for Windows Phone advertised we would be at 10% market share right now!
  • And how can you know that? Can you elaborate?
  • I wanted to support the Barnes and noble stores and I used the nook app on my surface tablet simply because I don't like amazons business tactics but the uncertainty eventually pushed me towards kindle. It's ashame this failed and I hope Microsoft comes out with something as well for an ereader like planned. Xbox books
  • Unless its e-ink, I'm not interested in an e-reader from Microsoft (or anyone else).
  • Opposing Amazon's business tactics by supporting a monopolist like B&N is a bit odd.  B&N is the one who (along with Borders) destroyed the local book stores in the late 80's and 90's.  Amazon's destruction of Borders and B&N, along with thier open selling platform, have permitted independent's to make a comeback, and thier publishing efforts have eliminated the big 5 publishers from being the only gatekeepers of published works. I understand opposing companies for business tactics.  I even agree with it in many situations.  But the people who support convicted conspirators in the book space (read the lawsuits vs the publishers and Apple) really do not understand what is happening in publishing.  Your argument would have more merit if instead you were supporting, say, Smashwords, which is truly independent, offering a viable alternative to any of the big publihers (including Amazon), and not damaging any local businesses by their existence while doing a lot of good for authors.
  • Looks like I may have to switch over to Kindle
  • I find this a bit of a strange to split but I also feel both companys have not done as much together as they could of to make nooks more popular as their deices are very well made and good to use. My other half had a Kindle and she broke it and I got her a Nook and she has said she will never go back to Kindle as she loves using the Nook but its each to their own and it will be intresting to see where both companys go from here.
  • SMDH... Another bad decision made by past leadership at MS... This doesn't worry me now though.... Still a pathetic waste of resources when MS should've been investing more in WP two years ago.... These resources could've gone to marketing... Still.. SMDH..
  • Wow
  • Nook always seemed to be a struggling second player to Amazon's Kindle.  How to not do it. Unlike Amazon they didn't support every platform with the goal of selling the most product (books) which is a  disadvantage. I never quite understood what Microsoft did when it purchased some of the company.  If I'd seen a WinRT Nook reader appear or something there'd be a purpose, but looks like Microsoft is being smart and jumping out before they completely die.
  • I'm hating that there will never be a nook Windows Phone app. This was the most ineffective partnership ever, it seems.
  • Well color me surprised (or not); I was one who thought the deal would be fruitless to begin with. Barnes & Noble doesn't even have the money to pay back Microsoft so they offer their shares. Microsoft should sell and cash out as soon as possible before that company sinks.
  • Good riddance. If Microsoft has to compete with Google, Apple and Amazon, they have to build their own media, books and entertainment ecosystem and integrate it with their premium productive ecosystem of office, Skype, outlook, Bing and Cortana. And to fully accomplish that, they have to expand their wings Worldwide. Windows being the dominant PC OS worldwide, they could do wonders.
  • Wow I guess 300 million only buys total incompetence and hostility. FU Barnes and noble.
  • What a wasted opportunity.
  • Kind of saw this coming with the new Samsung Nook being released and the Kindle being an unstoppable opponent. This was a losing proposition for MS.
  • Their time is almost up. Most of the B&M stores are gone.
  • All the B&N stores in my area - Chicagoland - are alive and well.  None have closed that I'm aware of.  They always seem busy when I visit.   Just bought a Nook for my daughter.  She loves it. I did often wonder why the tie with MSFT though.  Nothing came from it.  Now *really* nothing will come from it. I do use the Nook app for Win8 and like it although the best reading experience is had by using a e-ink device.  Phone would be last on my list.
  • Watch and see if all of them are still around after New Year's. Other than the one store that had ongoing closing rumors for years, I never expected to see that at least two others in my area were folding as well, and I only found out about those by way of a chance reading of a newspaper article.
  • Why on earth didn't they do more with that app like build it in as one of core apps and give away a book a month to get people hooked?
  • I'm disappointed how this turned out. I was a loyal Barnes and Noble customer. The Windows 8 Nook app was great and following Microsoft's investment I looked forward to Microsoft and B&N teaming up to bring a full featured reading app to Windows Phone. I was like Linus waiting for the Great Pumpkin. I finally gave up on Barnes and Noble, bought a Kindle Voyage and now Amazon gets my business.
  • This was Microsoft getting sued by b&n and to make it look less like a loss, Microsoft said we are investing in bn instead of we have to pay them a bunch because we lost to them.
  • No Nook app on Windows Phone actually made me consider switching to Android so I could access my large library on Nook. What a fiasco.
  • Too bad nothing came out of this. I was happy to finally have a decent eBook reader, with a good library selection on Windows 8 and (hopefully) Windows Phone. The NOOK app for Windows 8 was actually pretty good and I bought several books to read on my Dell Venue 8 Pro. It was much better than the Kindle app which is horrible in all Windows versions.  
  • As an author, I get more perks for being Amazon exclusive than being cross platform. So for me, I'd rather see Amazon update their apps than have a Nook app.
  • is that a $238 million dollar loss ?
  • Ugh. I'm as much invested in the nook platform as anything. I don't want to support amazon. I don't want to support android (or, perhaps rather Google). I was really hoping that Nook would be bought by Microsoft and have that whole ecosystem shfited to whatever Microsoft has cooking up (which now can't come soon enough, if ever). I guess that could still happen...?
  • Why don't you want to support Amazon?
  • An ereader app should also support comic books and all book formats or just roll it into the reader app already on the system
  • Boo. Any idea what is going to happen to the Nook app for Windows 8?
  • Barnes and noble .. I have a textbook on system analysis that references its website from the 90s Θ_Θ
  • Great job Microsoft for using the Nook branch you bought so well. Many great things happened with your acquisition. That one Nook app is definitely worth $300 million. Way to go.