Microsoft loses $238 million on Nook

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Image: MGN Online

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Microsoft has sold its stake in the Nook e-reader business back to Barnes & Noble, taking a $238 million loss on its investment.

In April 2012, Microsoft spent $300 million on a 17.6% stake in the digital e-book reader. On Thursday, Microsoft sold that stake back to Barnes & Noble for just $62 million.

Barnes & Noble claimed the deal would help the Nook business’ “operational and strategic flexibility.” Whatever that means.

Barnes & Noble announced in June that it would be spinning off its Nook business, after it failed to find a buyer for the struggling e-reader. As part of that announcement, the bookseller also announced mass layoffs in the Nook division and offloaded production of its tablets to Samsung.

Rumors had circulated last year that Microsoft wanted to buy the Nook e-book business for $1 billion, but that deal never took place. Meanwhile, the Nook has failed to keep up in a market dominated by Amazon’s Kindle, Apple’s iPad and Google’s Android tablets.

British book publisher Pearson also bought a 5% stake in the Nook for $90 million two years ago.