In the e-reader and reader/tablet market, Amazon Kindle has, according to most of what I've read, been outselling Barnes & Noble's Nook.
But this week, Barnes & Noble gained an important new partner: a little Redmond, Wash., company called Microsoft. Perhaps you've heard of them.
Barnes & Noble had been locked in a patent battle with Microsoft over some of the software that runs the Nook tablet, but the lawsuit has been resolved with a settlement that makes Microsoft an investor in the business.
Nook, along with Barnes & Noble's textbook business (which it's trying to move online, as more and more schools look towards electronic textbooks), will be spun off into a joint venture, with Barnes & Noble as the majority shareholder and Microsoft as the minority shareholder.
Microsoft will invest money in the new venture and will make a Nook reader app available as part of Windows 8, its new operating system. It's not clear whether the app will be available for download or whether it will be automatically included with Windows 8.
If the Nook app is bundled with, or somehow promoted by, Windows 8, it could opportune for Barnes & Noble. Although both Kindle and Nook offer apps that allow you to read books on computers, cell phones and the like, it's safe to say that not a lot of people read books on desktop computers. But Windows 8 is designed to run on both desktops and tablets. A Windows 8 tablet which came with an already-installed, ready-to-use Nook app might help nudge the people who buy that tablet into the Nook ecosystem.
It remains to be seen, of course, whether Windows 8 tablets will be able to make a dent in a market dominated by Apple's iPad. The Nook integration won't help if no one buys the products running the operating system.
As I was uploading stories to the T-G web site Tuesday morning, the system we use to manage our online content slowed to a crawl. I couldn't figure out what was happening at first, but we slowly pieced it together.
David Melson's story about a local man being wrongly arrested for passing a $50 bill was picked up by the Associated Press, which included a web link to our original story in its story. Scores of AP members put the story on their web sites, and then it was picked up by the popular Drudge Report website (drudgereport.com), which (as is their custom) just linked directly to our story.
We had tens of thousands of pageviews by midday Tuesday, and I'm guessing more will have accumulated by the time you read this column.
In the news business -- just as in the case of personal web sites, blogs and YouTube videos -- you never know what's going to catch on or go viral. It's not the first time we've had a story picked up by Drudge.
--John I. Carney is city editor of the Times-Gazette and covers county government. He is also the author of the self-published novel "Soapstone." His personal web site is lakeneuron.com.