Remember how music downloading caused the disappearance of actual record stores? Well, the memory of that combined with actual increased levels of online e-book downloads has caused Barnes & Noble, the largest bookstore chain in the United States with more than 700 stores, to consider putting itself up for sale.
The precise quote from the board was that they were “considering strategic alternatives, including the possible sale of the company.” In light of its declining shares and the inability of the Nook to counter the digital book download phenomenon, “sale of the company” is likely the operative phrase.
To be fair, when it comes to e-readers, Barnes & Noble doesn’t do too badly, generating about 27% of e-book sales, second to Amazon which accounts for 58% of the category sales. According to this year’s Customer Loyalty Engagement Index, those brands rank as follows:
Investors are challenging Leonard Riggio, B&N Founder and director. Billionaire, Ronald Burkle has increased his ownership stake and last week Liberty Media offered $17 a share – or just over a $1 billion – for the company. As the stock has risen in recent days, a shareholder fight looms.
The particular story may have a surprise ending, but the plot twist in the category of bricks and mortar bookstores has already been written—and it’s a non-fiction story when it comes to the increasing dominance of e-readers. Either way, Barnes and Noble has found itself in the self-help section, trying to avoid the clearance bin.
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