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B&N mulls spinning off Nook biz

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US bookseller Barnes & Noble is considering spinning off its Nook e-reader business into a separate entity as it forecast a drop in full-year earnings.

Although the retailer claims record holiday sales of its pocket-sized gadget, up 70 per cent from last year in the nine-week period up to December 31, B&N is still citing its Nook business as the reason for its reduced forecast.

B&N now expects full-year earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (a US accounting metric generally known as EBITDA) to be in the range of $150m to $180m.

"The change in guidance is due primarily to a shortfall in the expected sales of Nook Simple Touch, as well as additional investments in growing the Nook business, such as advertising to support new products and international expansion in the back half of the year," the retailer said in a canned statement.

Nook sales were up across the board because of the Nook Tablet rather than the Simple Touch, B&N said.

The company added that the "increased significance" of its Nook business was leading to a "strategic exploration" of the unit.

"In order to capitalise on the rapid growth of the Nook digital business, and its favourable leadership position in the expanding market for digital content, the company has decided to pursue strategic exploratory work to separate the Nook business," B&N said.

The bookseller is also "in discussions with strategic partners" about expanding the business abroad - which could be good news for UK residents looking for a bit more competition in the e-reader aisle. ®

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