Last week, TechCrunch reported that Microsoft is planning a $1 billion buyout of the digital arm of Nook Media, Barnes & Noble's eBook business that Microsoft is already partnering. The question that immediately followed was why Microsoft would be willing to pay so much money on an also-ran eReader business. The Nook eReader clearly lost to Amazon's Kindle line of readers in a market that is suffering from an ongoing shift to multi-purpose devices such as Apple's iPad.
Apparently it's not the hardware Microsoft is after. Instead the Redmond-based company has its eyes on the Nook content business. Digital publishing has grown vastly over the past few years, as reading devices in the form of smartphones, tablets and dedicated readers have become ubiquitous. According to the American Association of Publishers, eBooks accounted for 23 percent of American trade publishers' net revenue last year. Given the fact that Apple, Google and Amazon are already sitting at the table, it makes sense that Microsoft wants a piece of that increasingly large pie as well.