The latest tale in the dwindling brick-and-mortar print book business finds Barnes & Noble spinning off its college bookstore assets.

In a plan to separate out Barnes & Noble Education and form it into its own publicly traded company, Barnes & Noble put in an S-1 registration filing Thursday to split its legacy retail bookstores and Nook digital tablet business from its college business. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission approved the separation, as it would help the two brands “focus on their respective strategies.”

Barnes & Noble Education’s college business operates 714 stores on college and university campuses across the country, but the Nook, which has experienced losses year-over-year, needed to be retooled. B&N retail operates 649 Barnes & Noble stores in 50 states.

“We have a talented college management team in place, led by Max Roberts, and we will continue to invest and innovate to support the mission of our campus partners, expanding to new colleges and universities, students and faculty and increasing our presence in the growing market for digital education content and services,” Barnes & Noble CEO Michael Huseby said.

The challenges in front of Barnes & Noble are quite significant. Amazon, the company increasingly making gains in the e-book distribution model, and other Internet sellers have surpassed Barnes & Noble in sales. Meanwhile, the Nook device has fallen out of the spotlight as consumers double-down on Apple’s iPad tablet and Amazon’s Kindle e-reader. According to Barnes & Noble, the dissolution of its two properties is meant to be a tax-free move for current shareholders, and will be completed by the end of August.

With a market reach of 23 percent of the total U.S. college student enrollment population, the company’s fiscal 2014 total sales were $1.75 billion, while same-store sales for Barnes & Noble dipped 2.7 percent. The plan for the new stand-alone company is to “invest and innovate” its missions to support college growth, its campus partners, and expand to new colleges and universities throughout the country, according to Huseby.

Photo: Mike Kalasnik | Flickr

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