As Barnes and Noble forms a yet unnamed new division for its Nook and college businesses, receiving some badly needed cash from Microsoft, we are starting to see the different lines in the sand for dominance in the tablet marketplace. This new announcement comes as both the Nook and Amazon Kindle continue to face stiff competition from the highly successful Apple iPad. The partnership also is an indication of the direction that Barnes & Noble envisions for its book markets. By incorporating their college sales into this new division, the company is placing a high priority on the higher education market and the delivery of digital content to students through eReaders. The college division is the first segment, but to be a leader in the digital explosion, the lower grades levels will most likely be a future emphasis.
Microsoft will also gain by having the software that will allow digital books to be part of their new Window 8 operating system, using a Nook application. The electronic book market and the devices the digital books are read on are each hotly contested. As the two bright spots in Barnes and Noble business are moving to a new division, one has to question where this leaves the brick and mortar mega stores. Their merchandise mix has evolved during the last few years, and this trend will most likely continue. Does this mean there might be some hope and a place for the smaller independent bookseller?