An unsubstantiated and unconfirmed rumor circulated yesterday that Barnes & Noble was getting ready to spin off Nook Media. The rumor originates with a stock market news service, which reported on it behind a paywall, and it has been picked up by Benzinga.
There is absolutely no evidence to support this rumor being true, but given Barnes & Noble’s history it is not completely out of the question.
Barnes & Noble did spin off their ebook division and college bookstores in 2012, selling stakes to first Microsoft and then to Pearson. And then in 2013 rumors circulated that Len Riggio wanted to split B&N and take the retail stores as a separate company.
This split did not happen, but the rumor did turn out to be true. Riggio wanted to get rid of Nook Media and rescue the retail stores, but later cancelled his plans after Bill Lynch left his position as CEO and Riggio took control of B&N in his position as chairman of the board.
This latest rumor might be a sign that Riggio is moving forward with his plans to completely spin off Nook Media. True, there’s a lot of buzz coming out of B&N that they plan to launch a tablet this summer, and there are signs that they are making moves in to the educational market, but all of that can change in a trice if B&N found a buyer for Nook Media.
And given the ongoing downward sales spiral of B&N’s digital division, I could see why this sale would be a tempting idea.
But is this rumor true? I can’t say. It is certainly not implausible, but that’s not the same thing as being true.