Barnes & Noble, the biggest bookstore chain in the world, released a statement on Tuesday saying it was reviewing "strategic alternatives" to halt its declining sales, including a "possible sale of the company." But do physical booksellers like Barnes & Noble still have a place in a market increasing dominated by online retailers and digital books? (Watch a report about the future of bookstores.)
A new owner could make it a player in the online market: Going under private ownership could save Barnes & Noble, says The Economist. It needs to invest heavily in e-books, and that kind of gamble doesn't "sit well with the short-term" investment horizon of most public shareholders. Either way, Barnes & Noble will either "adapt to the Brave New World" of online bookselling, or end up "consigned to the History section."
"The final chapter?"
Barnes & Noble missed that boat a long time ago: The age of Internet bookselling "already has its winners," says Douglas A. McIntyre at Wall Street 24/7, in the form of Amazon, Apple, and Google. That leaves Barnes & Noble on the heap of losers. We face a sobering reality: "Books run on tiny chips on small screens" and physical bookselling is a lost trade.
"Barnes & Noble: The Titanic goes on sale"
They need to try something: It's easy to assume "digital books are the future," says Daniel Indiviglio at The Atlantic, but it's "unlikely that paper books will disappear entirely." The best option might be to "massively" reduce its store presence and pour money into the Internet. But that strategy is risky, so any eventual sale of the company will come at a steep discount.
"Who would want to buy Barnes & Noble?"