Barnes & Noble looks to be scaling back its Nook e-reader and tablet hardware efforts, according to a New York Times report. An unnamed source familiar with the company’s corporate strategy says that while "they are not completely getting out of the hardware business," executives are realizing that they need to shift focus from low-margin hardware to licensing its "crown jewel" content to other platforms. The news follows a string of lackluster quarters for the Nook division, culminating in news that it would post an even bigger loss than it forecasted in January, which in turn was bigger than the $262 million hit the division took in 2012.
As The Times points out, a shift in strategy away from hardware would be a radical re-thinking of the company's position in the marketplace. Barnes & Noble is presenting its third-quarter results on Thursday, at which point it should provide some more insight, while renewing its commitment to hardware partners like Microsoft and Samsung.
Update: The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Barnes & Noble's chairman and largest shareholder Leonard Riggio is considering making a bid for the company's bookstores. So far there hasn't been a formal announcement, although one could be made later this week. If the deal were to go ahead, the bookstore business would be severed from the company's college bookstore and Nook divisions.
Update 2: Barnes & Noble has officially confirmed that Riggio hopes to buy the company's retail business.