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Barnes & Noble Gets Ready to Spin Out the Nook

Nook Tablet
Nook TabletPhotograph by Paul Taggart/Bloomberg

The Nook was supposed to help usher Barnes & Noble into the future. It doesn’t look that way anymore. Today, the book chain’s chairman and biggest shareholder, Leonard Riggio, said in a regulatory filing that he is interested in buying the company’s stores and website, but not its e-reader business.

Riggio, and plenty of others, had been hopeful that Barnes & Noble could compete with, if not outdo its rivals—first Amazon’s Kindle and then Apple’s iPad. The belief that Barnes & Noble could make the transition to the digital age, and then thrive in it, was one reason Riggio was able to hold off the billionaire activist investor Ron Burkle in 2010. The next year, the company introduced a new black-and-white e-reader, the All-New Nook, designed by Robert Brunner, who had once worked at Apple. Both Microsoft and Pearson took minority stakes in Nook Media in the past year.