B&N Education today announced that it has acquired MBS Textbook Exchange (“MBS”) for $174.2 million in cash. Together, MBS and BNED will operate over 1,490 physical and virtual bookstores and serve more than 6 million students enrolled in higher education institutions.
MBS is the largest contract operator of virtual bookstores for the institutional client market and one of the largest used textbook wholesalers in the U.S. Through its MBS Direct business, MBS services more than 700 virtual bookstores with a comprehensive e-commerce experience and a broad suite of affordable new, used and digital course materials. MBS sources and sells new and used textbooks to over 3,700 physical college bookstores, including BNED’s 770 campus bookstores, and provides inventory management, hardware and point-of-sale software to approximately 485 college bookstores. It also operates textbooks.com?, an e-commerce site for new and used textbooks.
Riggio no longer owns as much of B&N Edu as he used to, but he does still control MBS (and he is the Chairman of its Board). So in many ways, this is one of his companies buying another.
That said, this is a smart merger. The two companies were in some ways competitors while also business partners (MBS is a supplier to B&N Edu). In addition to gaining MBS's expertise in digital curriculum, B&N Edu is also a player in the hot new segment of the college bookstore industry - virtual bookstores.
B&N Edu already runs college bookstores and college gift shops, and now it will also run virtual bookstores.
image by Brad Clinesmith