Barnes & Noble Explores Separating Nook Business

Barnes & Noble's stock took a tumble Thursday after the bookseller announced that it is thinking about separating its Nook e-readers from the rest of its business. Separation could be a good thing if it just means the tablet business will be independently managed.

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Barnes and Noble stock took a tumble yesterday. That happened after the bookseller announced it's exploring separating its NOOK e-readers from the rest of its business.

NPR's Lynn Neary reports.

LYNN NEARY, BYLINE: On the heels of a holiday season that saw a 70 percent increase in sales of most Nook devices, Barnes and Noble says it wants to unlock the value it has built into its tablet business. The company said it would not comment further on its intentions, and Sarah Rotman Epps, an analyst with Forester Research, says no one is quite sure what a separation might mean for Barnes and Noble.

SARAH ROTMAN EPPS: Shareholders look for growth, and the Nook business has driven growth for Barnes and Noble. If Barnes and Noble spins off that business, what is there for shareholders to be optimistic about?

NEARY: Epps says there is also some concern that the company's interest in separating the Nook from the bookstore is an indication that its core business is not doing well. But Epps says separation could be a good thing if it is just means that the tablet business will be independently managed.

EPPS: If that's the arrangement that Barnes and Noble is envisioning for Nook, this could be a great thing. It would give the Nook business more independence to attract new investment and new partnerships, to expand internationally, to innovate more quickly.

NEARY: Whatever Barnes and Noble has in mind, says Epps, it's important that it builds on the support the store has provided for the Nook, as well as its good relations with the publishers who provide content for the devices.

Lynn Neary, NPR News, Washington.

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