The Nook e-reader (Image credit: Rochelle Hartman)

Microsoft and Barnes & Noble have each been known as a software giant and a major bookstore chain, respectively. These two separate entities have had very few dealings in the past, if any at all. But now, the two companies are coming together in a big way, and their new deal is expected to significantly impact e-readers and the electronic textbook market.

On Monday, April 30, Microsoft announced that it would invest $300 million into Barnes & Noble to help support its Nook e-reader. The device has been used for both college textbooks in digital format and general books and novels that are available as e-books. Additionally, Microsoft will include a Nook app on its Windows 8 tablet computer, which is expected to be released this fall. There are Nook apps for both Android and Apple smartphones, including the iPhone. Windows users can also download a Nook app for their desktop and laptop PC’s to read digital books on them.

The deal is a perfect example of how electronic books are becoming more popular and will be used more frequently by both students and readers of all ages in the future. For several years now, Barnes & Noble, which owns hundreds of college bookstores around the country, has been competing with Amazon.com’s Kindle. The Kindle has sold more units than the Nook, but B&N is apparently trying to corner the market and make a move by getting Microsoft behind it to improve the device and make more books available for it.

Since B&N operates numerous college bookstores, this should come as good news for college students who are interested in digital textbooks. With the power of Microsoft behind it, B&N is poised to expand its offerings on the Nook and could potentially develop alternative technologies that will help college students have even more access to their textbooks and course materials. Many digital textbooks are priced at up to 60% off what students would typically pay for regular hardback books.

For more information about the Nook e-reader, visit this site. You can purchase one online and browse the database of books that are available for it. You can also check with your local campus bookstore if it is owned and operated by Barnes & Noble. Many college bookstore websites also include information about digital textbooks for all kinds of e-readers, so be sure to look on Textbooks.org for info on college textbook stores in your area.