There was some floor chatter at BEA about Barnes & Noble yesterday — although we all know Borders is not long for this world, some are suggesting that all the book chains are going to be bye-bye within two years. This despite the recent $1 billion purchase bid for Barnes & Noble by John Malone’s Liberty Media. But is Malone’s bid really about brick and mortar stores?
The Liberty Media bid has been greeted with some head-scratching among analysts and commentators. Mr. Malone, to be sure, is quite skilled in the dark arts of deal-making. He is an able negotiator, and many of his deals are quite complicated with a financial angle like tax savings. Still, it’s not clear that is the case here.
So far, most of the reasons given for the interest in Barnes & Noble center on its e-reader, the Nook. Mr. Malone implied that the Nook was a primary reason for Liberty Media’s bid at the company’s shareholder meeting on Monday. Though exact figures are unavailable, Barnes & Noble captured as much as 27 percent of the e-book market with its Nook, according to a Goldman Sachs report, and may have found a way out of the decline in storefront book selling.
With e-book sales now passing print sales on Amazon, and a new touch-screen Nook introduced yesterday, it’s easy to see why a cute little e-device would be a nice trophy on the mantle of a media mogul. But for $1 billion you could probably buy an actual device manufacturer, not just a bookstore chain.
Much more on B&N and its fortunes in the link.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.