Barnes and Noble works with Microsoft to make lots of money

Valuation puts B&N's ebook business as more valuable than the rest of the company combined

Some points of note about the Barnes and Noble deal with Microsoft:

  • The company being spun out of the deal, in which Microsoft acquired a 17.6 per cent stake in B&N's ebook and college businesses, is so new it's still unnamed – the documentation refers to it as "NewCo".
  • Despite NewCo being new, it's worth a lot. The $300m Microsoft paid for its stake values the overall business at $1.7bn. Yesterday evening, Barnes and Noble had a market cap of $1.5bn. Some investors have just got very rich, very quickly.
  • The sale represents an acceptance that Amazon owns the dedicated e-reader market. B&N were keeping afloat by being more technologically daring than Amazon, launching touch and colour versions of the Nook, their e-reader, long before the Kindle, but those low-hanging fruit have now been picked.
  • NewCo is going to pay the "Apple tax". Currently, the Nook apps on iOS use the same loophole that Amazon does avoid paying Apple the 30 per cent margin that they demand for in-app purchases. Customers must make all sales on B&N's website, and the app is not allowed to give instructions as to how to do this. Yet the filings for NewCo indicate that "NewCo will ensure that the NewCo Phone App will provide for in-app purchasing and will not link out of the NewCo Phone App to complete purchases of Content." So Microsoft and B&N are banking that the increased sales will be worth the cost.
  • NewCo will come to Britain. The Nook was slated to launch in the UK this year, but the London Book Fair, where an announcement was expected, came and went without event. Whether or not that delay was because the details of the partership were being finalised, or just a failure of expectation management on B&N's part, is unclear, but the new company has definite plans to exist on this side of the Atlantic.
Barnes & Nbole in Washington, DC. Photograph: Getty Images

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.

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PMQs review: Jeremy Corbyn turns "the nasty party" back on Theresa May

The Labour leader exploited Conservative splits over disability benefits.

It didn't take long for Theresa May to herald the Conservatives' Copeland by-election victory at PMQs (and one couldn't blame her). But Jeremy Corbyn swiftly brought her down to earth. The Labour leader denounced the government for "sneaking out" its decision to overrule a court judgement calling for Personal Independence Payments (PIPs) to be extended to those with severe mental health problems.

Rather than merely expressing his own outrage, Corbyn drew on that of others. He smartly quoted Tory backbencher Heidi Allen, one of the tax credit rebels, who has called on May to "think agan" and "honour" the court's rulings. The Prime Minister protested that the government was merely returning PIPs to their "original intention" and was already spending more than ever on those with mental health conditions. But Corbyn had more ammunition, denouncing Conservative policy chair George Freeman for his suggestion that those "taking pills" for anxiety aren't "really disabled". After May branded Labour "the nasty party" in her conference speech, Corbyn suggested that the Tories were once again worthy of her epithet.

May emphasised that Freeman had apologised and, as so often, warned that the "extra support" promised by Labour would be impossible without the "strong economy" guaranteed by the Conservatives. "The one thing we know about Labour is that they would bankrupt Britain," she declared. Unlike on previous occasions, Corbyn had a ready riposte, reminding the Tories that they had increased the national debt by more than every previous Labour government.

But May saved her jibe of choice for the end, recalling shadow cabinet minister Cat Smith's assertion that the Copeland result was an "incredible achivement" for her party. "I think that word actually sums up the Right Honourable Gentleman's leadership. In-cred-ible," May concluded, with a rather surreal Thatcher-esque flourish.

Yet many economists and EU experts say the same of her Brexit plan. Having repeatedly hailed the UK's "strong economy" (which has so far proved resilient), May had better hope that single market withdrawal does not wreck it. But on Brexit, as on disability benefits, it is Conservative rebels, not Corbyn, who will determine her fate.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.