As Chris Crum reported yesterday, the 'verse was all a-twitter with the news that Barnes and Noble was throwing in the e-reader towel and selling off its Nook business while the selling was good.
Today, B&N CEO William Lynch may have done an about-face. May.
“Whatever we do, we will continue to have a tight relationship between the Nook and [our] stores.”
This is the kind of non-statement that keeps the rumor mills churning. Yesterday, Lynch said, “We see substantial value in what we’ve built with our Nook business in only two years, and we believe it’s the right time to investigate our options to unlock that value."
Today's announcement seems less like a statement that they would not sell and more like a statement that, wherever the Nook ends up, they will still promote it as their e-reader product.
"Whatever we do, we will continue to have a tight relationship between the Nook and those stores and the Nook will continue to be Barnes & Noble’s e-reader."
In other words, Barnes and Noble is in the digital product business to stay. Investors would have it no other way, which seems like the purpose of today's follow-up announcement: to allay investor fears that B&N was leaving the digital business and going back to brick/mortar/paper only.
But, in the next sentence, Lynch said:
"In terms of separating the two, there are a lot of different options and ways we can do that."
Lynch stressed that B&N's Nook business had grown faster than they had expected and that they felt they were not capitalizing on that success as well as they should.
Maybe they feel having the Nook business managed by a third-party partner, still in relationship with B&N, would be a better use of their resources? One handles the hardware, the other provides the content? It's not what Apple does. Or Amazon. Or almost anyone else in the digital media device business.