B&N To Keep Selling Nook Tablets This Year While It Transitions To Licensing Its Ebook Brand

The Nook is on life support. Device sales are down. Digital content sales are down. Revenue is down. Things look bleak, but B&N plans to keep its current crop of tablets around at least through 2013.

Today in its 2013 year-end report, Barnes & Noble detailed the sad state of the Nook but said it will continue offering the Nook HD and Nook HD+ through the holidays. The company will also continue to support the devices in retail stores. However, things are about to change dramatically with the Nook brand.

B&N briefly detailed an upcoming licensing deal that’s designed to “significantly reduce losses in the NOOK segment by limiting risks associated with manufacturing”. According to the news release today, B&N is teaming up with a yet-to-be announced 3rd party that will manufacture the Nook tablets, which will then be co-branded with B&N and the 3rd party.

“Our Retail and College businesses delivered strong financial performances in fiscal year 2013,” said William Lynch, Chief Executive Officer of Barnes & Noble, said in a released statement today. “We are taking big steps to reduce the losses in the NOOK segment, as we move to a partner-centric model in tablets and reduce overhead costs. We plan to continue to innovate in the single purpose black-and-white eReader category, and the underpinning of our strategy remains the same today as it has since we first entered the digital market, which is to offer customers any digital book, magazine or newspaper, on any device.”

The Kindle’s success clearly states that consumers want e-book readers, and despite B&N’s huge retail footprint, the company’s early success in the segment didn’t translate to a long-term win. It’s clear, with a year of declining sales data, the bookseller isn’t offering a product that interests its customers.