After spinning off its e-book division into a separate company last fall, bookseller Barnes & Noble may soon unload troubled Nook altogether to Microsoft.
TechCrunch reported this week that Microsoft may have an offer on the table to entirely swallow up Nook Media LLC, the digital book company it invested heavily in last year.
According to an internal document obtained by the website, Microsoft has offered $1 billion (UK£64.8 million, AU$99.4 million) to buy out the joint venture, co-owned by Barnes & Noble and other investors.
Since its spinoff last fall, Nook has been on the decline with a 26 percent year-over-year drop in the holiday quarter, immediately sparking rumors that B&N could buy back the company or even ditch hardware entirely.
Shift to Windows?
As part of the reported Microsoft buyout, existing Android-based Nook hardware would be phased out by end of the 2014 fiscal year in favor of app distribution through "third-party partner" devices.
Nook already has a solid presence on Windows, iOS and Android as well as having sold 10 million tablets and e-readers sold to date, so it's unclear if Microsoft's offer suggests a push to Windows 8-powered hardware or devices made by others.
Microsoft already has a 16.8 percent stake in Nook Media following a $300 million (UK£19.4 million, AU$28.8 million) investment made in last April, with $180 million (UK£11.6 million, AU$17.8 million) earmarked for Nook Windows 8 software development.