In Case You Didn't Already Hear

This is no doubt the biggest publishing news of the day, if not the entire week:

Microsoft Corp. is investing at least $605 million in Barnes & Noble Inc.'s Nook digital-book business, as the software giant pushes deeper into the e-books business and props up a rival to the iPad and Amazon's Kindle.

Microsoft will have a 17.6% stake in a new subsidiary for the Nook and Barne's college-text businesses in a transaction that values them at $1.7 billion, the companies said. That compares with Barnes & Noble's current market capitalization of about $791 million and could fuel the argument of some analysts and investors that the digital business should be separated from the retail division.

Shares of Barnes & Noble, which has struggled with a slide in traditional book sales and heavy investments in its Nook digital business, surged 68% on the news.

As those shares should. After all, this is MAJOR news. Since January Barnes & Noble has talked about possibly doing a spinoff of the NOOK. Just last week there were rumors circulating around that Facebook might (or should) be the one to make the purchase. After all, they recently threw down some massive dough to purchase a photo app that I don't use and have no interest in using.

Anyway, is this Microsoft/Barnes & Noble news exciting? Yes, very much so. Though, to be honest, I don't care much for either company. Growing up all I used was Microsoft, but in the past few years I've become a big Apple fan. I have an iMac, an iPad, an iPhone, ietc. As for a dedicated ereader, I love my basic $79 Kindle. I can't remember the last time I was in a Barnes & Noble, and I really have no interest in any of the NOOK devices, though the most recent one -- the glow in the dark eink -- looks pretty cool. So as a consumer, this news today doesn't really affect me much ... except, in a way, it does.

Because the more competition, the better.

If a powerhouse like Microsoft is teaming up with Barnes & Noble, it gives Amazon more reason to keep their prices low -- and, more importantly, it gives them more reason to continue to offer writers such as myself that 70% royalty ... just as it gives B&N the same reason to keep up their 65% royalty.

See -- competition is great for everyone involved.

Then again, some companies feel the need to flex their muscle, which ends up hurting pretty much everyone involved.

Oh well, such is life.