Barnes & Noble Tumbles as Partners Take NOOK Tablet

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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- What was supposed to be Barnes & Noble's saving grace has turned into a tale of woe, and the final chapter is now written.

Barnes & Noble shares were tumbling on today's weak earnings report, falling 14% to $16.21.

As part of the book retailer's abysmal fourth-quarter earnings, Barnes & Noble announced that it would be sourcing its NOOK hardware to a third-party to limit the losses associated with developing and building the tablet.

For the quarter, Barnes & Noble lost $2.11 a share on $1.28 billion, a 7% year-over-year decline. Analysts were looking for a loss of 97 cents a share on revenue of $1.33 billion.

The NOOK segment had revenue of $108 million for the quarter, down 34% year-over-year. Device sales continue to be poor, as the tablet game is dominated by the likes of Apple's iPad and devices running Google's Android operating system. NOOK EBITDA losses were $177 million for the fourth quarter, which includes $133 million in inventory write-downs.

What was supposed to be a home run deal for Barnes & Noble, as well as Microsoft , when the NOOK partnership was announced last year, now appears to be nothing more than a weak ground ball to second base.