Pearson buys a small stake in Nook Media, wants a fast track for educational ebooks

Publishers often want to work closely with e-book outlets -- possibly a little too closely -- but it's rare that they involve themselves directly. Pearson is taking that uncommon step by making a 5 percent, $89.5 million investment in Nook Media, the joint venture between Barnes & Noble and Microsoft. Some of the reasoning won't be made public until Barnes & Noble provides holiday sales results on January 3rd, but Pearson is clear that it's furthering its online education plans: it wants Nook Media's distribution skills to make a "seamless and effective experience for students." Just when we'll see this harmony is still up in the air, though. Nook Media has yet to outline what Microsoft's partnership means for e-books and e-readers, let alone how Pearson factors in. We're not expecting a sea change until companies start speaking up.

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NOOK Media Announces Strategic Investment by Pearson

New York, NY and London (Dec. 28, 2012) – NOOK Media, LLC, a subsidiary of Barnes & Noble, Inc. (NYSE: BKS), the leading retailer of content, digital media and educational products, today announced that Pearson (NYSE: PSO), the world's leading learning company, has agreed to make a strategic investment in NOOK Media, LLC. Pearson has agreed to invest $89.5 million in cash in NOOK Media, LLC at a post-money valuation of approximately $1.789 billion in exchange for preferred membership interests representing 5% equity stake. Following the closing of the transaction, Barnes & Noble will now own approximately 78.2% of the NOOK Media subsidiary and Microsoft, which also holds preferred membership interests, will own approximately 16.8%. Subject to certain conditions, Pearson will earn the option to purchase up to an additional five percent ownership in NOOK Media.

Pearson's strategic investment in NOOK Media will accelerate customer access to digital content by pairing its leading expertise in online learning with NOOK Media's expertise in online distribution and customer service. This will facilitate improved discovery of available digital content and services, as well as seamless access.

"We formed NOOK Media to be a leader in the exploding market for digital content," said William Lynch, Chief Executive Officer of Barnes & Noble, Inc. "Pearson is a forward thinking company similarly focused on reading and learning, with powerful assets and a terrific management team. We welcome their partnership in NOOK Media, and look forward to working with them and Microsoft to deliver great digital experiences for our shared customers."

Will Ethridge, Chief Executive Officer of Pearson North America, said, "Pearson and Barnes & Noble have been valued partners for decades, and in recent years both have invested heavily and imaginatively to provide engaging and effective digital reading and learning experiences. This new agreement extends our partnership and deepens our commitment to provide better, easier experiences for our customers. With this investment we have entered into a commercial agreement with NOOK Media that will allow our two companies to work closely together in order to create a more seamless and effective experience for students. It is another example of our strategy of making our content and services broadly available to students and faculty through a wide range of distribution partners."

The Daily Roundup for 12.28.2012