Barnes & Noble has put out a press release today that has me scratching my head. The purported reason for the pr is that B&N wants to tell you that B&N College has contributed to EpubCheck, but I am interested in this release because some details don’t add up.
Barnes & Noble College, a subsidiary of NOOK Media LLC, the leading retailer of content, digital media and educational products, announced today that its digital education team has made significant updates to the open source EPUBCheck tool, creating a new way to evaluate EPUB files to ensure they adhere to industry standards. Originally created by the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF), EPUBCheck is a tool to validate and detect types of errors in IDPF EPUB files. The updates created by the NOOK Digital Education team make it more manageable and easier to facilitate the tool’s integration into publishing workflows and workflow management systems.
EpubCheck is the open source tool everyone uses to make sure their Epub ebooks comply with the Epub spec. Lots of companies and individuals have worked on it, so B&N’s contributions aren’t really all that newsworthy.
But as I read this press release I started wondering why B&N wanted to tell us about this. That is a simple question; they wanted the free advertising from the news coverage.
And I am also wondering why B&N made sure to include a mention of B&N College. This is a B&N subsidiary that runs 600 or so college bookstores under contract to various colleges and universities. It originally belonged to B&N and then was sold off to B&N Chairman Len Riggio before being bought back by B&N. It was later merged into Nook Media, for reasons I never understood.
Why did B&N choose to mention the college bookstore subsidiary? Sure, this division did develop NookStudy in 2009 so they do have some digital chops. But why mention them when B&N could just refer to Nook Media?
I can’t help but wonder if B&N is laying the groundwork for something. Maybe they’re selling off B&N College and want to raise its profile first? Or maybe they plan to launch something related to digital textbooks?
Or maybe I am reading too much into this. What do you think?