B&N lets go of some Nook engineers; Microsoft hiring developer to work on Xbox Reading app?

Credit: Source: Barnes & Noble

Last week Sony announced that they were getting out of the e-book business, shuffling their customers off to Kobo. We're starting off this week with more e-book news, some of it a bit puzzling.

First, there was a story going around (I saw it at BusinessInsider) that Barnes & Noble had fired their entire Nook hardware engineer staff. Turns out the story was a bit premature and later in an update BusinessWire shared B&N's statement that it wasn't the entire hardware department. Ars Technica heard the same thing.

So it's bad news for Nook, but could've been worse, particularly coming off a holiday season in which sales were down 66%. I guess that's the best way to look at it. Nook continues to hang on despite my frequent predictions of its impending doom. Hey at least it held out longer than Sony!

So that's Nook, now here's the puzzling news. It seems like Microsoft might be building a new eReader app for...the Xbox? Or maybe just running on Windows with the Xbox brand, it's not clear. The Verge carried the story and they're focusing on it being a new e-reader app for Windows 8, or maybe a rebuild of the existing Reader app.

It all comes from a Microsoft Software Development Engineer job listing for the MVR (Music, Video and Reading) Team. The ad says, in part:

Do you want to deliver key innovations to revolutionary consumer products built on the latest technology including Windows 8, Windows Phone, Xbox, and Xbox LIVE to name a few?

and later

As an SDE, you will be on the team building a groundbreaking interactive reading app on Windows, which incorporates books, magazines, and comics.

So, probably just a Windows app with Xbox branding. But where does Xbox LIVE come in?

It's unlikely that many people would want to read an e-book on their Xbox One, but I can imagine reading comics that way. Particularly interactive comics. I'm picturing a reader flipping pages by waving his hand at the Kinect, and zooming in on specific panels by moving his hands apart, and things of that nature. By offering a consistent experience (and store, of course) across Windows 8, Xbox One and Windows Phone Microsoft could take a shot at being your single source for all your varied reading materials, I guess.

I have to admit I'm stretching here. What do you think? Is there any place for reading material on an Xbox One? Or was that job ad based on a template and someone forgot to delete "Xbox and Xbox LIVE" from that paragraph?

Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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