Microsoft and Barnes & Noble: An e-book marriage

Microsoft is investing $300 million for a 17.6 percent stake in a new subsidiary that combines Barnes & Noble’s Nook e-reader and college bookstore businesses. The transaction, which will turn the software maker into a direct competitor of Amazon, values the Nook business at $1.7 billion—a rare bit of good news for the struggling bookseller. That’s more than double Barnes & Noble’s total market capitalization. The partners said the investment would help speed the introduction of the Nook bookstore abroad and fund research and development of new e-ink Nook readers and tablets. Microsoft announced last year it would discontinue its own e-reader app effective August 2012.

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