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Barnes & Noble Tumbles as Partners Take NOOK Tablet

Tech hardware is an extraordinarily competitive industry, with low margins on devices. Apple has been an industry leader with its margins, well north of 30%, as the company not only offers hardware that people love, but software and content that people want, making the Apple ecosystem very difficult to move away from. The NOOK never had that experience, with digital content sales falling 8.9% for the fourth quarter, as NOOK hardware sales fell, as results were impacted by the strong sales of Fifty Shades of Grey and The Hunger Games.

Barnes & Noble isn't completely abandoning the NOOK experiment. It will still design the e-Readers, as well as the Simple Touch and Glowlight products, and continue to build out its digital catalog, as well as launching new NOOK apps.

The NOOK business was supposed to breathe new life into the struggling book retailer. Perhaps Microsoft does eventually buy the hardware business from Barnes & Noble, throwing it a bit of a lifeline, as Microsoft looks to seemingly throw good money after bad and continues to build out its hardware division.

Otherwise, it seems like it's last chapter for the NOOK as we know it.

-- Written by Chris Ciaccia in New York

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