Barnes & Noble (NYSE:BKS) shares surged more than 15% in Thursday midday trading after a report surfaced that Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) is bidding to acquire its Nook Media division.
According to TechCrunch, internal documents from Barnes & Noble indicate that Microsoft has offered the bookseller $1 billion to purchase its Nook tablet and digital media business. The software giant is not interested in the unit’s college text book division.
The move comes as Barnes & Noble is planning to withdraw from the tablet business to concentrate on selling e-books that can be read on apps installed on other manufacturer’s devices. The documents reveal that Barnes & Noble will end production of its Nook tablets by the end of the 2014 fiscal year.
Nook tablets run on a version of Google‘s (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android operating system and compete with Amazon‘s (NASDAQ:AMZN) Kindle tablets, as well as Apple‘s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPads. Roughly 10 million Nook tablets have been sold. Microsoft took a 17.6% stake in Nook Media last year after it split from Barnes & Noble’s retail book division.
Holiday sales of the Nook proved lower than expected, prompting speculation that Barnes & Noble might seek a buyer for the unit.
Earlier this month, Barnes & Noble added Google’s Play app store to the Nook tablet, boosting the number of apps available to Nook users from about 10,000 to more than 700,000.
Shares of Microsoft slipped slightly in Thursday midday trading.