BTW News Briefs

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B&N and Microsoft Form Partnership

On April 30, Barnes & Noble and Microsoft announced the formation of a strategic partnership in a new Barnes & Noble subsidiary that will include all of its digital as well as its College business. Microsoft is making a $300 million investment in the subsidiary, temporarily referred to as Newco, in exchange for an approximately 17.6 percent equity stake. Barnes & Noble will own approximately 82.4 percent of the new subsidiary, which will have an ongoing relationship with the company’s retail stores.

TechCrunch noted that “the news leaves the door open for B&N to eventually spin [its Nook and College business] off into a separate business altogether — or even sell them to Microsoft. And it leaves a load of questions about what B&N will do next with the Nook, which is currently built on a forked version of Google’s Android platform.”

Among the benefits to Microsoft,according toTechCrunch, is it ensures “that its Windows 8 tablets will be able to compete not only against the bestselling iPad but also the Kindle Fire from Amazon, along with the rest of the company’s e-readers.”

The New York Times said the deal bolsters B&N’s “efforts to make its digital business the linchpin of its future growth” and noted, “The partnership is not exclusive to Microsoft, meaning that Barnes & Noble can still pursue other alliances with the likes of Google.”

Court Deals Blow to E-Book Pricing Class Action Suits

A federal judge in New York has dealt a blow to class action law suits against Hachette and HarperCollins for an alleged e-book pricing conspiracy. On May 2, Judge Denise Cote ruled that the class action could be halted on the grounds that the publishers are close to a consumer restitution settlement with state governments, according to PaidContent.

Hachette and HarperCollins have entered a memorandum of understanding with several states and have suggested that settlements with all 50 states are imminent. Yesterday’s ruling would allow the two publishers to avoid class action proceedings and the risk of a jury award that could be even higher than what they will pay through state settlements.

Simon & Schuster is also in talks with the state governments but did not receive a stay this week because it hasn’t signed a formal memorandum, PaidContent said.

Target Stops Selling Kindles

Target’s announcement this week that it will stop selling Amazon’s Kindle e-reading devices is “the latest in a series of brawls between the companies fueled by Amazon’s increasing competition with brick-and-mortar retailers,” as reported by Reuters in the Silicon Valley Mercury News.

“Target is phasing out Amazon- and Kindle-branded products in the spring of 2012,” Target spokeswoman Molly Snyder wrote in an e-mail to Reuters. “We will continue to offer our guests a full assortment of e-readers and supporting accessories.”

Matt Nemer, an analyst at Wells Fargo, said the move was “evidence that Target is getting more serious about Amazon as an enemy rather than a partner.” Some Target store now feature special displays of Apple products, including iPads.

Tablet Popularity Grows Among E-Book Consumers

 E-book consumers’ preference for tablets is accelerating rapidly as dedicated e-readers drop in popularity, according to the Book Industry Study Group’s (BISG) Consumer Attitudes Toward E-Book Reading survey. Results included in the second installment in Volume Three of the study show that consumers’ “first choice” preference for dedicated e-readers declined from 72 percent to 58 percent over the course of six months.

More than 24 percent of e-book buyers now prefer tablet devices for reading, up from less than 13 percent in August 2011, according to the study, and the increase was primarily for non-Apple tablets, mostly those from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

 The latest installment of the study also found that nearly 30 percent of respondents in the February 2012 survey reported an increase in dollars spent on books in all formats since they began acquiring e-books, while nearly 50 percent reported an overall increase in the volume of titles purchased in any format. 

However, more than 27 percent of Casual Buyers (those who purchase one or two books a month),  now exclusively purchase e-books rather than print, compared to 30 percent of Power Buyers, and only half use a tablet regularly, compared to 83 percent of Power Buyers.

BEA Pin Board Highlights ABA Members

BookExpo America has created a Pinterest board for ABA-member bookstore trade show registrants that want more exposure.

Booksellers can e-mail a photo of their storefront, along with their website and physical addresses, to BEA for posting to the Indie Bookstore pin board. The board currently features 10 ABA members.

Other BEA pin boards highlight libraries, bloggers, books we love, museums to visit while in New York, and more.