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Pearson, biggest textbook maker, invests in Nook

– Pearson, the U.K. publisher and education company, is to take a 5 percent stake in Barnes & Noble’s Nook e-reader as technology companies seek new inroads into the potentially lucrative business of digital textbooks for schools.

Pearson PLC will pay $89.5 million cash for a 5 percent stake in Nook Media LLC, which includes the bookseller’s e-reader and tablets, its digital bookstore and its 674 stores serving U.S. colleges. Barnes & Noble will hold 78.2 percent of the business and Microsoft will have about 16.8 percent, the company said Friday.

Shares of Barnes & Noble ended the week up 62 cents at $14.97 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Major tech companies have looked for inroads into the education publishing industry, seeing tablets like the iPad and the Nook as replacements for the dozens of books that students must lug to and from school each day.

Walter Isaacson in his biography of Steve Jobs wrote about meetings between the co-founder of Apple Inc. and major publishers to accomplish just that before his death last year.

Janney Capital Markets described the tie-up between Pearson and Barnes & Noble as an “online education dream team.”

“After this investment from Pearson, it is more clear that Nook Media has its sight set on transforming the way education is administered in the U.S. and around the world,” analyst David Strasser wrote.

Pearson is the largest higher educational publisher in the world and the largest kindergarten-through-high school publisher in the United States, Janney said. The company, which also owns the Financial Times and whose Penguin book brand is in the process of being merged with Random House, reported that its textbooks and training made $3 billion in revenue the first six months of 2012.

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