Barnes & Noble to split retail and Nook businesses

Struggling bookseller Barnes & Noble announced a plan this morning to split its retail and Nook businesses into separate publicly traded companies.

"We believe we are now in a better position to begin in earnest those steps necessary to accomplish a separation of Nook Media and Barnes & Noble Retail," CEO Michael P. Huseby said in a statement. "We have determined that these businesses will have the best chance of optimizing shareholder value if they are capitalized and operated separately We fully expect that our Retail and Nook Media businesses will continue to have long-term, successful business relationships with each other after separation.”

The largest book chain in the United States, Barnes & Noble had previously explored splitting the company, but it abandoned those efforts last year.

As Forbes notes, the chances of the Nook succeeding on its own is anyone's guess: The tablet, which hasn't been able to emerge from the shadows of Apple's iPad and Amazon's Kindle, posted $87.1 million in revenue for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2014, a decrease of 22 percent from the same period last year.

However, James McQuivey, an analyst for Forrester Research, tells Mashable the split isn't likely to alter Barnes & Noble's position in a highly competitive market. "The reason to separate the company is to hope that someone like Microsoft would buy it," he said. "But I don’t know if there is a buyer for Nook. That's really the only outcome for Nook that will give it some opportunity to have a life when it's out there on its own."

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