Liberty Media Sells off Shares of Barnes & Noble

Nearly 3 yearbarnes noble logos after making an unsuccessful bid to buy Barnes & Noble, the investment firm Liberty Media has announced that they are selling off most of their stake in the bookseller.

Liberty Media plans to retain about 10% of its stake in B&N. This firm spent $204 million to acquire a 17% share of the bookseller in August 2011, shortly after its failed takeover bid. There’s no information on how much Liberty Media is getting for their B&N stock, but the press release does say that they sold the majority of its shares to qualified institutional buyers. B&N’s stock price dropped slightly on the news, and is now trading for around $19 a share.

Barnes & Noble has had a tumultuous 16 months ever since the disastrous 2012 holiday season, with declining bookstore and digital sales most quarters. And now it would seem that at lest one investor doesn’t expect the situation to improve.

10 thoughts on “Liberty Media Sells off Shares of Barnes & Noble

  1. Why does anybody expect the situation to improve? 1. They straddle the line between the growing eBook market and paper books, and favor the latter. 2. They frequently charge more for the “Nook” edition (epub) of the same eBook that Amazon has at one or two bucks cheaper. 3. They provide no way to buy electronic copies in the stores and load them, or at least add them to the user’s library.

    They have done NOTHING to provide either a better online shopping experience than Amazon or manage a user’s library/account better.

    1. You can’t add eBooks to a bag and buy them all at once. That means each and every ebook purchase has to be entered when you reconcile your credit card. They provide this only for physical copies.

    2. You can’t search your library by title or author. If you want to find and load a particular book by a particular author, you have to go through a LOT of pages to get there. My account with B&N has over three thousand books and magazines from my days with Fictionwise. It can take 20 minutes to get halfway through it, one “next page” click at a time.

    3. They advertise poorly. The only notification emails I ever got from them were the “latest hot books” THEY wanted to sell me. I finally told them to go away.

    4. They have no way to say “notify me when a new book by (author x) is available.” This despite the fact that Fictionwise, which B&N took over and destroyed, had such a feature over ten years ago.

    Make up your own list, but B&N pretty much is turning its nose up at a lot of book lovers who prefer portability and ease of access, without providing anything better for people who actually visit the stores. The last time I did, I ended up simply photographing the new and interesting books on the shelves for reference and then trotted off to either buy them from an indie bookseller I know as gifts for a friend, or order them for myself from Amazon or directly from the publisher to save money. Oh, FYI, Harlequin DOES have a ‘shopping bag’ for their eBooks.

    1. You’re flat out wrong about a number of your complaints:

      You have been able to buy eBooks in a BN store for years now and redeem them on-device or through the website with an access code.

      You can search the libraries on every NOOK device. On the NST’s it’s the icon that looks like a magnifying glass and on the HD’s it’s the bar at the bottom of the screen that says “Search Library”. Or you can use the universal device search, which returns any matching results in your library.

      BN has drastically changed their marketing emails. Up until last year you’re correct that they were generic, but they’ve done a lot in the last few months to target them better. I (having bought a large number of SF/F books) get a weekly email of the SF/F new releases, a roughly bi-weekly email of SF/F titles that have recently gone on sale, and specific notifications for bigger name authors that I have bought a large number of books from (Sanderson, Prachett, etc.) when they have a new title available.

      But as usual, don’t let a little thing like facts get in the way of a good ranting.

      1. I don’t use a hardware Nook. My PC copies of “Nook for PC” crash and hard burn when confronted with my library. The ONLY way I have been able to get my older eBooks out of B&N is the tedious find-the-book by paging through the library, downloading them to my hard drive, and taking technical measures to make them readable on my Android phone.

        FYI, the Android and iPhone “Nooks” are even worse for stability and performance in the face of a 3000-odd ebook library.

        That’s why I have a new account for the little I’m still willing to buy from B&N.

  2. This is good news for BN. Liberty’s shares were not common stock, they were preferred shares that had a required annual dividend of 7.75%. BN was dumping $16 million a year to these guys for no reason. Moreover, Liberty had right-of-refusal on any split or buyout of the company and two seats on the board, which made pursuing further strategic options difficult for the company.

    Given how badly you want BN to be carved up and sold off in pieces, Nate, I’m surprised you’re not celebrating that the largest impediment to your grand goal of BN’s death is gone.

    1. I’ve become very cynical about a lot of these investment companies too. Most of the time they seem to be more interested in squeezing out every penny from the company and then ditching it when there’s no more air in the body. For example, the mattress industry in which a $300 mattress costs $3000 in the store, the company (such as Seely) has gone into chapter 11 three times and a business that was stable and paid good wages for jobs, is now erratic and following a boom bust cycle all the time.

      I take Liberty’s move as a good sign. I just hope a hedge fund stays away from it.

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