RealTime IT News

Barnes & Noble.com Goes to School

With an eye to creating an online university, Barnes & Noble.com Tuesday acquired a minority stake in notHarvard.com, a developer of online branded universities.

The terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Barnes & Noble.com will become the primary distributor of notHarvard.com's eduCommerce course materials across its network of online universities.

notHarvard.com recently raised $26 million in its second round of venture funding. BN was one of several investors in the company, including Adam Dell's Impact Ventures, Merrill Lynch KECALP, Centerpoint Ventures and Sanchez Capital Partners. The round was led by Austin Ventures and included previous investor TL Ventures.

BN and notHarvard.com plan to create Barnes & Noble University, a free online education resource which would offer thousands of online learning courses through the BN Website beginning in mid-July.

Steve Riggio, vice chairman of Barnes & Noble.com, said the company considers distance learning to be a natural extension of BN's core business.

"Our plan is to create an exciting learning environment where many courses will be based upon the best books in the field," he said. "We additionally intend to invite the authors of these books to become instructors, offering them the ability to publish additional content in both electronic form as well as through print on demand technology."