Trouble in Nook-ville? Barnes & Noble shares lost about a quarter of their value this morning on the surprising news that the company might spin off its Nook e-reader. B&N has poured a ton of money into the e-reader business, but the news suggests it's losing the arms race to Amazon, with its deeper pockets and mighty Kindle, reports Reuters. Overall Nook sales were up 70% in the last nine weeks of the year, but sales of the basic model—the $99 Nook Simple Touch—fell short over the holidays. B&N lowered the yearly sales forecast for Nooks from $1.8 billion to $1.5 billion.
CEO William Lynch put the potential move in a positive light, telling the AP that the company wants to "unlock value and shine a bright light on that business." One analyst at Michael Norris voices a common skeptical refrain: "Separating Nook from the Barnes & Noble brand would be a huge mistake. A lot of people who buy e-books buy physical books as well. Do they really want to tamper with that kind of marriage?" (Read more Barnes & Noble stories.)