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Pearson taking 5 percent stake in Nook business

LONDON — Pearson, the UK publisher and education company, is to take a 5 percent stake in Barnes & Noble’s Nook e-reader as technology companies seek new inroads into the potentially lucrative business of digital textbooks for schools.

Pearson PLC will pay $89.5 million cash for a 5 percent stake in Nook Media LLC, which includes the bookseller’s e-reader and tablets, its digital bookstore, and its 674 stores serving US colleges. Barnes & Noble will hold 78.2 percent of the business and Microsoft will have about 16.8 percent, the company said Friday.

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Major tech companies have looked for inroads into the industry, seeing tablets like the iPad and the NOOK as replacements for the dozens of books that students must lug to and from school each day.

In his biography of Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson wrote about meetings between the cofounder of Apple Inc. and major publishers to accomplish just that before his death last year.

Janney Capital Markets described the tie-up between Pearson and Barnes & Noble as an ‘‘online education dream team.’’

Pearson is the largest higher educational publisher in the world and the largest kindergarten through high school publisher in the United States, Janney said.

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