Barnes & Noble Is For Sale: Amazon Should Buy It

Barnes & Noble Goes on Block

Barnes & Noble Inc. has put itself up for sale, struggling amid a changing landscape for book sales.

The nation’s largest bookstore chain announced Tuesday that it was reviewing strategic alternatives and ways to boost shareholder value.

This is all about the money.

Sarah Weinman, who has covered the ongoing tale of Barnes & Noble, has an analysis of the intricacies and politics at work.

This news could not have come at a worse time for Barnes & Noble — right after Amazon’s trifecta of press announcements (eBook sales, the Kindle 3, and Larsson selling one million Kindle books).

People do not want uncertainty when it comes to spending money — especially in these straitened times. Hearing about Barnes & Noble being for sale brings to mind all other companies that were sold and became worse after the process. How many potential sales of the Nook will now be killed by this uncertainty?

I want to discuss why Amazon should just go ahead and buy Barnes & Noble.

1) If this doesn’t make sense, consider FedEx buying Kinko’s. This merger would be far less strange.

2) Amazon would gain a huge book-related retail presence for the Kindle.

3) Amazon could swiftly put ePub to death in one shot and transition all Nook buyers to Kindle format — without requiring eBook re-purchasing.

4) Amazon would have the major presence in book buying and force the industry into the twenty-first century.

5) Amazon could install POD machines. Barnes & Noble could finally offer what Amazon always has: every book in print, in-store. POD machines would mean cutting back on inventory by forcing publishers to eBooks and POD. (Publishers would come to favor that: finally, a business with no returns.)

6) Those who live near a Barnes & Noble could pick up shipments there, instead of waiting for FedEx or UPS to arrive and without the fear of waiting packages being damaged or stolen.

7) Amazon is known for pleasing customers — Barnes & Noble, not really.

8) Amazon is a retail business anyway — albeit entirely online — and could use the extra real estate freed up by fewer print books to showcase items people can’t sample online. For example, how much would Kindle DX sales increase with people being able to actually hold it and try it without obligation?

9) Amazon has the cash to do this in one swoop.

10) A disorderly collapse of bookselling is not in Amazon’s best interests. Borders is already in trouble and publishers must be wondering what unpaid bills they’ll get stiffed with by that company.

11) If, as Bezos stated on Charlie Rose, the Kindle is all about reading, this is the chance to show that in a big way.

12) Any other buyer — including taking Barnes & Noble private — would be worse. One eBook file standard needs to prevail outright for the good of both publishers and readers.

13) The Amazon Store as a name has better brand recognition. Worldwide. They’d become tourist stops, like the Apple Store. Per-square-foot traffic and revenue would skyrocket.

14) Amazon merch. How many tourists will leave with a T-shirt? A hat? A carrying bag? A Kindle case?

15) As I’ve waited to hit Publish, people on Twitter have objected to the idea based on Amazon having a retail presence invoking sales taxes. With every state being in financial distress — and the federal government too — taxes are going to happen anyway. The Internet does not exist above or separately from the countries its companies operate in (ask any of them how many subpoenas they get each day — and from whom). And Amazon, then being “caught” in the tax trap with a brick and mortar presence, can go on to argue to close that loophole for all others too. Because that’s how business operates.

Don’t wait, Bezos. Pounce!

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