Barnes & Noble, the largest US bookstore chain, officially filed to spin off its higher education arm into its own company.
The decision allows for the bookseller to separate the successful Barnes & Noble College division, which operates more than 700 college bookstores nationwide, from the otherwise struggling chain. Over the past five years, Barnes & Noble College sales have held steady at around $1.75 billion annually, while total sales have fallen more than a billion dollars from 2012 to $6.07 billion this year, according to the company’s SEC filings.
Spinning off the college branch, which will be called Barnes & Noble Education, allows for the successful subsidiary to continue to expand and remain an attractive investment to investors who would otherwise be wary of the financial burdens of the parent company, or what CEO Michael Huseby calls an “industry-leading, pure-play public company.”
But the source of Barnes & Noble’s college divisions success is the well-chronicled exploitative practices of college bookstores and textbook publishing companies, whose books routinely cost hundreds of dollars, with some price tags even making their way into the four digits. As The Atlantic has noted, the price of college textbooks has risen by more than 800% since 1978, outpacing even the skyrocketing cost of college tuition.
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