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Barnes & Noble Founder Wants to Take Retail Division Private

Unknown Lamer posted about a year ago | from the that's-one-way-to-die dept.

Books 131

The times haven't been the kindest to B&N: retail sales are down and the Kindle is outselling the Nook. Joining Best Buy and Dell, B&N might be going private. From the article: "Barnes & Noble’s largest shareholder, Leonard Riggio, made an offer Monday to buy out the struggling company and take it private ... Essentially, it would split the company in two: one half would be Riggio’s private brick-and-mortar stores and related assets, the other the publicly-traded Nook and college bookstore management division."

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Cherry picking (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43010419)

Keep the Nook and college bookstore portion shit, and make public the brick and mortar portion. Then I might be interested in buying a few shares (OK, probably not even then).

Books I tell you! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43010421)

There's a future in books! Pulpy, inky, papery books!

Re:Books I tell you! (1)

FatdogHaiku (978357) | about a year ago | (#43011491)

There's a future in books! Pulpy, inky, papery books!

Right after the EMP...

Blame the market bulls ... (5, Insightful)

oztiks (921504) | about a year ago | (#43010435)

Public companies are getting abused on the stock market so bad being private means they can actually run the business properly without having to worry about squeezing to make every Q more profitable according to analyst projections and "expected" profits.

Apple should do the same but having 1bn outstanding shares at $400 a piece means even their whopping $130bn in the bank wont even save them from the onslaught.

Re:Blame the market bulls ... (5, Interesting)

peragrin (659227) | about a year ago | (#43010541)

The trick is wall street MBA and EMBA's are basically stripping companies bare destroying assets for short term goals, and personal profits.

Take Circuit city. The MBA's backed by wall street stripped the company to the bones, stole all the cash and pushed it into bankruptcy.

After a bad year(2008) and falling stock prices circuit city management came up with a plan to cut expenses by $10,000,000 over the next 3 years. They fired the top 3,000 salesmen and hired 2,500 fresh salesmen in the summer of 2009. Wall street bounced the stock back up, and management paid themselves $5,000,000 in bonuses for that year.

2009 ended with predicitably even lower sales.(firing your best salesmen does things like that).

6 months later it was completely gone.

Wall street supports and and encourages self destructive behavior. Wall street isn't about long term investing any more. It is about millisecond long trades taking up 75% of all trading volume.

Seriously if wall street cut HFT for one day the volume would collapse.

Re:Blame the market bulls ... (2, Insightful)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | about a year ago | (#43010649)

That only happens with companies that are failing anyway. Its in nobody's interest to destroy a thriving business, or at least one that is worth more alive than dead. What people fail to understand (hence Obama's ads about Romney at Bain) is that capitalism is as much about failure and loss as it is about success and profit, and that's a good thing.

Re:Blame the market bulls ... (1)

oztiks (921504) | about a year ago | (#43010717)

Its in nobody's interest to destroy a thriving business, or at least one that is worth more alive than dead

You've just explained where bubbles come from and the parent just explained what happens when a business' growth stabilizes and how those bubbles burst. It's a recipe for disaster either way you look at it.

As I've always said "you cant push hot molasses up hill" though the market wishes it can and on the flip side you then have the short sells who profit from that so it's kobayashi maru for the company caught in the rift.

Re:Blame the market bulls ... (1)

Mashiki (184564) | about a year ago | (#43011155)

You've just explained where bubbles come from and the parent just explained what happens when a business' growth stabilizes and how those bubbles burst. It's a recipe for disaster either way you look at it.

Well it doesn't help when the feds are pumping the market to make it look so happy and rosy either does it? If the feds weren't correcting, the market wouldn't be as bullish.

Re:Blame the market bulls ... (1)

dywolf (2673597) | about a year ago | (#43013445)

as broken as the mod system is...mod up just for the Star Trek reference. its so applicable to this stuff.
two paths both make money, and both get you in trouble. either you plan long term and piss off the investors who have come to expect short term gains and have been trained to ignore long term, so they eventually fire you....or you make short term gains and run the company into the ground. no matter what, you lose.

Re:Blame the market bulls ... (2)

geminidomino (614729) | about a year ago | (#43013497)

Not quite.

..or you make short term gains and run the company into the ground. no matter what, you lose.

That's hardly considered "losing" among executive management.

Costco (1)

Anubis350 (772791) | about a year ago | (#43010721)

I wish that were true, but I remember reading recently that the founder of Costco has been heavily resisting any urges to follow his competitors and slash staff salaries (my god, Costco employees are all paid a living wage, the horror!) and benefits (they all have comprehensive health insurance, the horror!), raise his maximum profit margins on goods (charging more means more money... until the customers leave!), and generally all the other stuff that destroys companies. HE's being urged to do this by Wall St. types who want to see massive short term profits *now* and damn the future

Re:Costco (1)

Lifyre (960576) | about a year ago | (#43010823)

Not everyone running the company has enough power to do this unfortunately and many that would try would be removed by the board.

Re:Costco (2)

DavidTC (10147) | about a year ago | (#43011777)

That's because Costco pays fucking dividends so people who own the stock make a share of the profits.

Ah, investing money in a company to make a cut of the actual profits of the company, an insanely novel idea of corporate ownership that might just catch on one of these days. (It is the 1300s, right? I think my computer's clock is wrong.)

Re:Costco (2)

slew (2918) | about a year ago | (#43012049)

FYI, The founder of Costco (Jim Sinegal) retired as CEO in January 2012. Although he remains on the board of directors, the reigns have been passed to another insider Craig Jelinek...

Lest you think Costco is all about bucking Wall Street, you should know that they borrowed (yes borrowed) $3.5Billion (with a 'B') to pay out a special dividend to shareholders ahead of the tax increase that is scheduled to take place this year. This typical short term Wall Street manuever no doubt just transfered almost a billion or so from the US treasury to Costco shareholders (and probably didn't do much to help the employees or customers who as taxpayers will be forced to help fund this manuever).

Re:Costco (1)

dywolf (2673597) | about a year ago | (#43013479)

unless they borrowed it from the treasury, tax payers dont pay for it.
plus there's that whole thing about having to pay back whatever you borrow.

Re:Blame the market bulls ... (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year ago | (#43010889)

Its in nobody's interest to destroy a thriving business

It is very much in the interest of securities litigation attorneys to destroy a thriving business. Avoiding shareholder class action lawsuits (where the shareholders sue themselves with the lawyers getting a cut) is a major reason for public companies to go private.

Re:Blame the market bulls ... (4, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | about a year ago | (#43011307)

That only happens with companies that are failing anyway. Its in nobody's interest to destroy a thriving business, or at least one that is worth more alive than dead.

[Citation Needed]
More importantly, you are making assumptions about what is and isn't rational behavior from your perspective.

From the perspective of a corporate raider:
Mortgaging a healthy company to the hilt and then selling off its assets is wildly profitable.
They don't want to run the company and earn a respectable return on investment.
They are not in it for long term profits.
They want X00% return on investment within a few years and they can get it.

Different motives and different agendas leads to different 'rational' behaviors.
Hence regulation to reign in the more destructive, yet completely rational, actors.
There was even a /. story today which showed us that 'rational' behavior is not a universal constant []

Re:Blame the market bulls ... (1)

metlin (258108) | about a year ago | (#43012967)

Look up Joseph Schumpeter and his take on "Creative Destruction". His book "Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy" talks about just that.

Re:Blame the market bulls ... (4, Interesting)

femtobyte (710429) | about a year ago | (#43011533)

The catch is "worth more alive than dead" --- the investment class making the decisions only cares about the fraction of worth *to them,* not to the economy and all stakeholders as a whole. Thus a company that is doing perfectly well --- able to maintain high employee pay, solid pensions and benefits, and still turn a profit for the investors --- will get killed if it will funnel more money into the pockets of the rich (even if the total economic value to everyone is lost).

For example: if a currently profitable company has a big pension fund saved up to pay out to retirees, corporate raiders will load the company up with debt, funneling all its money to "contractors" and "consultants" until they are "forced" to dip into the pension funds to keep the company afloat. When all the assets are gone, tell the workers and retirees "sorry, we're bankrupt!" before cruising away on your new yacht.

Killing thriving companies is also useful for breaking unions --- one profitable, strongly unionized corporation in an industry will drive up wages and benefits even for non-union competitors (by competing for skilled workers). Thus, the investing class will want to drive the unionized company into the ground --- at least long enough to win major concessions, if not outright dissolution, from the workers. Then it's profit for everyone else at the top.

Killing off a thriving corporation may also be cheaper/easier than integrating it through merger/acquisition when a bigger corporation wants to buy off a competitor to assume a more solid monopoly position.

In all these cases, "worth" to the economy as a whole is destroyed if all stakeholders are counted (especially employees and customers) --- but so long as more money ends up in the pockets of the super-rich, it's a "win" for the decision-makers.

Re:Blame the market bulls ... (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about a year ago | (#43011863)

That only happens with companies that are failing anyway. Its in nobody's interest to destroy a thriving business, or at least one that is worth more alive than dead.

It happens to everyone. Wall Street hedge fund managers feel that they're immune to things like the economy - they want their 8/10/15+% ROI damn the recession. Hell, at a time when most people would be just happy to have their investments be stable (as opposed to disappear), they still want their share of the blood.

Hell, Einhorn is trying to "unlock" the Apple's cash [] with a really convoluted scheme involving stock swaps and guaranteed dividends. So convoluted that the PR session he held to promote his idea that he had to explain his concept several times to various Wall Street bankers.

If it was simple, he wouldn't need to explain a thing. Yes, Wall Street plays by different rules, economic depressions included.

Re:Blame the market bulls ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43012409)

"...only happens with companies that are failing anyway. Its in nobody's interest to destroy a thriving business, or at least one that is worth more alive than dead."

read this sorry story: []

### excerpt from the wikipedia article referenced above ####


  By 1978 the company had grown to a chain of more than 50 stores in three states,[8] and Mervyn's was acquired by the Dayton Hudson Corporation (now Target Corporation). Mervyn's kept its separate identity as a Dayton Hudson subsidiary....

In March 2004 Target Corporation announced that they planned to put the Mervyn's and Marshall Field's divisions up for sale to focus on Target stores. Target Corporation was approached by many buyers for both stores but many of the potential buyers only saw value in the real estate, Target refused to sell to the groups which only wanted to buy the property and said they would only look at deals that would not close the company and put the then 30,000 employees out of work. In July 2004, Target Corporation announced that Mervyn's had been sold to a group of investors that included private investment firm and turnaround specialist Sun Capital Partners, Inc, Cerberus Capital Management, and real estate investment company.

- ... the new owners changed the structure of the company, dividing it into separate real estate and retail businesses. In essence, the Mervyn's real estate arm charged retailer Mervyn's huge rents for its department store space....

In September 2008, Mervyn's sued the private equity firms involved in the leveraged buyout of the chain, alleging that the deal had stripped the retailer of its real estate assets, forcing it into bankruptcy. Mervyn's said in the suit that Cerberus Capital Management and its partners had used the increased rent to finance the buyout...

. As of 2012 many of the former Mervyn's locations which were not taken over by Forever 21 or Kohls were taken over by Burlington Coat Factory and Hobby Lobby stores, but some are still vacant. As mentioned above many of the leases signed by these replacements are at a fraction of what Mervyn's was paying.

### end excerpt ####

A solvent business was gutted, to the detriment of community, employees and it seems ultimately even the leveraged-buyers-out. Capitalism at its finest!

Re:Blame the market bulls ... (1)

sesshomaru (173381) | about a year ago | (#43013019)

What people fail to understand (hence Obama's ads about Romney at Bain) is that capitalism is as much about failure and loss as it is about success and profit, and that's a good thing.

I don't know what capitalism is "about," but are you really going to try to argue this in an age when truly parasitic zombie banks are declared "too big too fail" and are kept alive by a flood of public money, even as they destroy everything else through leverage buyouts, bubbles and the other tools of the finance Visigoths?

Re:Blame the market bulls ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43013439)

It happens to every company.

Company's interests as they are

Board of Directors
Senior Management
Angry bums on the street

Company's interests as they should be


The rest will be taken care of by focusing on those 2 items.

Re:Blame the market bulls ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43010785)

Circuit City sucked. They sucked in the 90's like they sucked in the 2000's. Sure, people made profit by pushing it this way or that but the company still sucked.

Re:Blame the market bulls ... (2, Insightful)

trout007 (975317) | about a year ago | (#43011259)

What else are you supposed to do with those Trillions of dollars the Fed loaned you at zero interest?

Horse shit (2)

DogDude (805747) | about a year ago | (#43011293)

Horse shit. It's not just "MBA"s and such making these decisions. It's everybody. Every Joe Blow who buys a stock or a mutual fund is interested in one thing: return. Let's not pretend that average people investing for their retirement are interested in making less money for the sake of, say, treating employees well or making ethical business decisions. The problem is the whole system of public companies in the US. Corporations have all of the rights of actual people, with none of the liabilities, and the owners of said public companies (every stock/fund holder) are completely and entirely divorced from anything the company does other than earn profit.

Re:Horse shit (1)

sesshomaru (173381) | about a year ago | (#43013037)

I used to be an investor (before I met a girl) it was important to me as a small investor that companies I invested in focused on the big picture, and I would ruthlessly dump stocks that I thought weren't in it for the long term.

See, it's the big guys,and only the big guys, who profit from juiced stocks... everybody else involved gets totally screwed, and that includes the small investors and the people with 401ks.

If you enjoy getting screwed, by all means try to play in the big boys pool, but you'd be better off going to Vegas and betting everything on "7."

Re:Horse shit (1)

Legion303 (97901) | about a year ago | (#43013251)

" It's not just "MBA"s and such making these decisions. It's everybody. Every Joe Blow who buys a stock or a mutual fund is interested in one thing: return."

Joe "I have one share" Blow gets to make strategic business decisions now? Huh.

Re:Blame the market bulls ... (1)

Svartalf (2997) | about a year ago | (#43013355)

It happens because it works. If you put things back a bit more like they were shortly after the Great Depression was over with and make it more profitable (because of tax code changes it's not...) to dole out dividends and the like, such that it's less profitable to strip mine a company that's publicly traded, then you'd see a lot less of this.

Re:Blame the market bulls ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43013389)

No, Circuit City was already doomed by the online market for electronic goods. Their large retail spaces had to be huge to hold all that variety of goods and be able to compete with specialty audio or computer stores, but the ability to review and order components online evaporated much of their electronics market. Frankly, they were already doomed.

The high-frequency-trading, however, needs to go the heck away.

Re:Blame the market bulls ... (2)

Nemyst (1383049) | about a year ago | (#43010713)

Yes. See Valve as an example of a company which has never had to bow to idiotic stock market investors, allowing them to make actually sound business decisions. Now every publicly traded gaming company, bar maybe Activision, wants to be in their shoes.

Re:Blame the market bulls ... (1)

alen (225700) | about a year ago | (#43010813)

valve is a tiny company operating in a niche market

but even they are looking to branch out into consoles and they have dealings with Sony for the playstation because tech changes and their business could be wiped out

there are not enough people buying physical books to pay the overhead

Valve may have been a tiny company before... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43010895)

But they're manuevering themselves into a potentially pivotal company in the online market. EA is selling games through them. Zenimax is selling games through them. I'm sure there are other publishers people who can find who are as well. And that's before including the independents, their 'console' plans, and the shift towards everybody having a steam account as one of their 'new' social networking accounts.

And I say all of this as someone on the outside of steam as well as all the current DRM encumbered games for the past 3-5 years now.

Sure Valve may become irrelevant in a couple years, but then again like Microsoft, Amazon, Google, etc before them, they targeted the right market at the right time and have made themselves a leader in it. Not only that but they've managed to make it profitable and pervasive enough to take money from their competitors for access to it.

That to me says something.

Re:Blame the market bulls ... (3, Interesting)

CncRobot (2849261) | about a year ago | (#43010799)

Close. Its the SOX rules, amongst others, that are killing a lot of public companies. Where I work we had public bonds before SOX became law and after that the quickest we could we got rid of them so we don't have to follow those rules.

Of course after the story of MF Global and Corzine, I'm not sure why they bothered to pass SOX if they won't enforce the law in a textbook example of someone breaking it.

Re:Blame the market bulls ... (1)

sesshomaru (173381) | about a year ago | (#43013075)

They'll enforce SOX against you if you don't have political connections.

There's a reason my company had a former US president to speak at one of their recent shindigs, and it wasn't because they wanted to hear the man speak (even though he often comes out with unintentional comedy... he's the master of the spoonerism...)

Re:Blame the market bulls ... (2)

ahabswhale (1189519) | about a year ago | (#43010897)

But Apple doesn't give a shit about the stock market. It's why they have such a ridiculously low p/e in spite of how successful they are. It's the market's way of saying "You're a bad...Apple!!" It's one of the things I give kudos to Apple for...telling the fuckers on Wall Street to go fuck themselves.

Re:Blame the market bulls ... (0)

oztiks (921504) | about a year ago | (#43011911)

Yes and no (maybe?), yes Apple doesn't give a shit but it most certainly does not walk away from Wall St unscathed. The problem with AAPL (if you can call it a problem) is the amount of money it has ...

AAPL has $130bn in the bank but it also has 1billion outstanding shares. So you do the math, if AAPL was to "buy" back it's shares the company could only afford $130 for each share (which are currently valued at $442).

So, you have shit like this going on at the moment with AAPL []

Which is a PERFECT example of how bulls screw the market. Instead of "investing" in a business and hoping that the rewards of that investment come from the fruits of the company's labour. The market is instead trying to manipulate and seize the financial and operational objectives of the companies they invest in and make them do what "they" want. Obviously they hold some sort of sense of entitlement here, I personally believe it's not fair but that's pretty much what's at play.

What I think this is with Einhorn vs AAPL's is case of hungry eyes at play and sheer "want now, forget tomorrow" greed.

Re:Blame the market bulls ... (2)

mabhatter654 (561290) | about a year ago | (#43013135)

But the alternate side is that the $130 Billion isn't Tim Cook's money., its stockholder's money. Apple did just fine for most of a decade on a mere 30-40 billion in cash. There is no "reasonable" way Apple can spend that much money. They would have to go YEARS without sales, or go on a crazy spree and buy Microsoft or Sony... Or some other small failing company, they'd have too much change from Yahoo... Apple shouldn't have that much cash because it makes them too easy for lawyers to shake down, or the government to fine.

It's the Shareholder's money and maybe they want to spread it around... How much interest is Apple getting on that??

The problem is unlocking the money that's intertwined in foreign accounts to get around the taxman. That's why the complex schemes.

Microsoft spent half a decade pissing away its biggest profits on the CEO's poor management and "take over the world" projects before they started shelling out dividends. Microsoft just used the Shareholder's own money to cover their poor performance for 5 years... And stocks went down anyway.

Considering Apple could easily pay out $10 per share, per year right now before STARTING to make a dent in their cash pile, that is $10 million a medium size institutional investors could use to bankroll NEW companies.... For effectively free. Every year.. Returns are WAY better doing that.

Re:Blame the market bulls ... (2)

oztiks (921504) | about a year ago | (#43013797)

Small dispersions of money to shareholders shouldn't be an issue, though I'm sure AAPL does the dividend thing, more so it's the buy back of the shares which is what they are pitching and if your key asset is money you might have a problem. I.E you have $175bn in assets and $130bn of that is greenback. Lets look at loose figures here ... (no means perfect mind you)

You have an annual revenue of $150bn and an asset base of $175bn the market cap is supposed to define the companies total worth stock volume x stock value = marketcap. Apple has a marketcap of $420 billion and $150+$175 is off by about $100bn, so lets consider the $100bn difference being calculated as expected growth, I.E what analysts say.

So say you take their key asset "their cash" and you buy back shares, you do that expecting to drive the share value up right? Unfortunately with AAPL it may not be the case because you could get stuck over inflating the share price with nothing under it, causing the value of the shares to do quite the opposite. The concept of future trading (P/E ratio, etc) is based on 12 months of projected annual growth, AAPL is only growing the money, not the physical assets which are supposed to yield a higher ROI than what money would, I.E money generating assets.

If Apple had an asset base that was of similar size or greater than it's cash, then no issues it only makes sense to buy back the shares, but it seems the market is hell bent on killing them so they can do it all over again.

So if Apple loses to Einhorn it could establish a catastrophic legal precedent that could screw the AAPL stock.

If AAPL holds on to the money without creating assets that could also screw AAPL stock but again to my bulls hatred, the market wants to control how the mountain is pushed over, that way the ones in the right place and right time can jump ship or short sell when the going is good.

Maybe its my own personal feelings saying this but I think AAPL holding on to the cash is their way of showing who's got the upperhand.

Re:Blame the market bulls ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43011085)

Public companies are getting abused on the stock market so bad being private means they can actually run the business properly without having to worry about squeezing to make every Q more profitable according to analyst projections and "expected" profits.

Apple should do the same but having 1bn outstanding shares at $400 a piece means even their whopping $130bn in the bank wont even save them from the onslaught.

Oh. My. God.


Re:Blame the market bulls ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43013345)

The truth of the matter is that it used to be a good thing being publicly traded- now the only realistic way to extract value out of publicly traded companies is to find a bigger bagholder to dump your shares on. Most aren't shareholders, they're sharesellers...and having things that way means that you all but have to choose to do stupid things in a medium to long term sense, just to look good for the sharesellers.

Douche Bag Central (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43010465)

The problem with most people at Slashdot these days is that they are 20-something douche bags. The golden era of Slashdot is gone forever, and now it's just a bunch of over entitled college students with very little life experience, and the under 30 douche bags that can't let go of being over entitled college students.

In other words, Slashdot is Douche Bag Central.

Just the facts, folks.

One way to make money (1)

alen (225700) | about a year ago | (#43010487)

Find suckers to help you buy failing business model
Borrow cash and pay yourself dividends

Online ALL THE THINGS! (2)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#43010491)

It seems like the trend to buy and sell everyone online continues to gain steam. Many stores from Blockbuster to Best Buy, from computer resellers to water purification systems... it seems like if you can get away with not having to touch or interact with the product in person before making a buying decision, that's what people are doing. In droves. One of the few retail areas not significantly affected has been women's clothing. Men, being of somewhat more predictable shapes and sizes, can buy jeans and such online, but women have no such luck. Even here, however, basics like bras, tank tops, t-shirts, shoes, etc., are being displaced by online sales.

It does not surprise me that books are on the list of things people don't need to go to a bookstore to purchase -- most books are purchased based on the recommendation of friends, word of mouth, or reviewers (which, surprise -- print media is giving way to online media...). This is not a good time to be a retail book seller... Barnes and Noble will soon be displaced by Walmart and their ilk; Stores that only sell books won't be around for much longer if they're publicly traded... they'll just be broken up and sold off piece by piece, their valuable commercial real estate being repurposed and the stock thrown out in massive going out of business sales, or simply deposited in a dumpster.

Re:Online ALL THE THINGS! (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | about a year ago | (#43010627)

This is not a good time to be a retail book seller... Barnes and Noble will soon be displaced by Walmart and their ilk; Stores that only sell books won't be around for much longer if they're publicly traded...

And yet, B&N closed their online store (Fictionwise), which was the one of the few places with DRM-free multiformat offerings.

Re:Online ALL THE THINGS! (1)

DavidTC (10147) | about a year ago | (#43011789)

Um, no. B&N's online store is the Nook store. It's right there in the article.

Fictionwise's purchase by B&N was just part of the roll-out of the Nook so they'd have titles and licensing agreements in place. And they didn't 'close' Fictionwise as much as 'merge it into the Nook store'.

Re:Online ALL THE THINGS! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43013139)

You say that as someone who hasn't had a hard time getting their fictionwise library migrated to Nook.

Re:Online ALL THE THINGS! (1)

Alwin Henseler (640539) | about a year ago | (#43010771)

it seems like if you can get away with not having to touch or interact with the product in person before making a buying decision, that's what people are doing.

So true. If it's not possible already, you could hire a (physical) storage space online. Then buy goods online, and have them delivered to that storage space. So you're never bothered by all that junk you bought cluttering up your house.

One day, you may loose the need to ever visit that storage space, or use the junk that's stacked up there. So why not buy virtual goods then, so you can save on shipping & storage? And not have the bother of getting rid of that stuff... And when all the goods are virtual, replace that physical storage with a virtual one.

Hire virtual space online, buy virtual goods to store there, never actually touch all that junk... heaven?

Oh wait... done [] .

Men, being of somewhat more predictable shapes and sizes, can buy jeans and such online (..)

Maybe I'm oldfashioned then... I wouldn't even consider buying jeans without first trying it on. Even if it were "buy online, try it on, sent it back if it doesn't fit, free shipping". Simply not my kind of shopping. For many other items: why not? Online shops cut a lot of the cost of brick & mortar, which is ultimately good for consumers. Just not for everything, or every occasion.

Re:Online ALL THE THINGS! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43012143)

It's also impossible to tell how a dress shirt will look on you until you try it on. Even if you know your measurements, every manufacturer means different things by "Fitted" and "Slim Fit" such that you really do have to try everything on before you buy it or risk looking like a dumpy sack of crap.

Re:Online ALL THE THINGS! (2)

NevarMore (248971) | about a year ago | (#43011065)

, basics like bras,

You know nothing about womens undergarments and how complicated they are to fit and take off do you?

Re:Online ALL THE THINGS! (0)

I'm New Around Here (1154723) | about a year ago | (#43011721)

, basics like bras,

You know nothing about womens undergarments and how complicated they are to fit and take off do you?

Are you calling him a virgin?

Re:Online ALL THE THINGS! (0)

DavidTC (10147) | about a year ago | (#43011817)

Hell, he doesn't appear to know anything about men's clothing, either. Who the hell buys jeans without trying them on? Men's pants' sizes are _less_ fucked up than women's (Which, from what I hear, are completely random from brand to brand.), but it doesn't mean jeans can be bought sight unseen, unless you've tried that exact size in the same brand.

Socks, yes. Underwear, yes. (In fact, you have to as you can't try those one.) Shirts, yes. Pants and shoes? Uh, no.

Re:Online ALL THE THINGS! (2)

trout007 (975317) | about a year ago | (#43011283)

Last time I was in B&N I saw a whole aisle marked "Teen Paranormal Romance". I pretty much knew it was over.

Re:Online ALL THE THINGS! (2)

DavidTC (10147) | about a year ago | (#43011879)

By 'it', do you mean Barnes and Noble? In which case I would suggest you're exactly backwards. If there actually I a genre that is selling, that's great for B&N.

If by 'it' you mean 'society', then yes. Yes it is.

I am the last person to judge people for the sort of fiction they enjoy. Especially fantasy. (I was a flipping Buffy fan. And a Harry Potter fan.)

But, honest to God, half those books are total crap. That genre is the...the...the new 1920 pulp sci-fi. Except with more sexism and crappier characterization and dumber story-telling.

And putting _more_ sexism in a book now than back then in 1920-1930s quite a trick. Especially when most of the damn writers are themselves female.

And unlike pulp sci-fi, this isn't some sort of new genre attempting to figure out what it wants. The romance genre already exists! The fantasy genre already exists! Both of them know how to aim at teenagers! There are plenty of 'teen paranormal romances' that long predate this slush that were pretty good.

But then goddamn Twilight came along and proved that anyone will buy any piece of crap. And thus pieces of crap were dutifully produced. (Or, rather, _shelved_. Crap books have always been produced.)

But I'm glad they ended up on their own shelve. All too often they end up cluttering 'urban fantasy' or just fantasy in general. (Hell, last time I was at B&N, they had sci-fi and fantasy together. Seriously?)

Re:Online ALL THE THINGS! (1)

Kilo Kilo (2837521) | about a year ago | (#43013557)

They carved this out of the ever decreasing Sci-Fi / Fantasy section. I tolerate the mixing of Sci-Fi and Fantasy, but this shit is unacceptable.

Re:Online ALL THE THINGS! (1)

TheLink (130905) | about a year ago | (#43012103)

It's porn for girls. Porn sells.

Re:Online ALL THE THINGS! (2)

EmagGeek (574360) | about a year ago | (#43012923)

They should just call it the "Vampires and Intense FEELINGS" category. Or maybe "Angsty Confused Female Surrounded by Scary Man-Critters."

Re:Online ALL THE THINGS! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43011359)


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Re:Online ALL THE THINGS! (1)

sesshomaru (173381) | about a year ago | (#43013059)

Everyone is broke, which turns everyone into a bargain hunter which means that stores that aren't designed to do bargains (but have other goals like convenience or quality) are priced out of the market.

It's part of the Western readjustment, as we move into a new dark age of low compensation and diminished expectations. []

On the plus side, things might improve when we are finally conquered by the East. (Probably not though.)

Is it really news for nerds or stuff that matters? (0)

jest3r (458429) | about a year ago | (#43010507)

Is this really news for nerds or stuff that matters?

Sure we all read books but why is this interesting?

Re:Is it really news for nerds or stuff that matte (5, Interesting)

timeOday (582209) | about a year ago | (#43010629)

B&N is a company that valiantly strived to make the transition from bricks-and-mortar to the Internet, just as we are constantly chiding outmoded companies like Kodak for failing to do (or the RIAA for actively fighting, when it comes to music). By releasing the Nook line of e-readers, B&N took a leap into leading the transition of print publication away from paper. I for one bought a Nook for my daughter a couple years ago, and she reads on it all the time. Yet still they are gradually falling by the wayside, like all the other big booksellers that pre-date the Internet. For all we blame top management for failing to make the transition, re-inventing a running company seems to be all but impossible.

Re:Is it really news for nerds or stuff that matte (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43011727)

The nook is a scam, You were burned buying it. Riggio most likely notes that, and wants out of it. As far as I am concerned they can take the Nook Division and cram up the ass of who ever dreamed it up.

I don't understand (1)

Eskarel (565631) | about a year ago | (#43010509)

So he wants to split the company into two divisions, one of which probably will fail and the other of which certainly will fail. I guess that makes some sense, but the bit he wants to make private and own himself is the bit which certainly will fail?

The Nook doesn't have a huge shot at beating the kindle, even if they went and enabled their store on everyone's device, but it does have a shot, however remote, at being at least sort of profitable. Brick and Mortar book stores on the other hand are pretty well doomed unless they can offer some sort of specialization and/or excellent customer service which is pretty much the antithesis of the chain book store mind set.

Re:I don't understand (2)

Daetrin (576516) | about a year ago | (#43010737)

It's not just that, but the Nook and the brick and mortar stores have at least _some_ synergy together. The one thing Amazon doesn't have is a physical storefront where you can go browse books. I will on occasion go to B&N, browse through the shelves until i find a book i like, and then buy the ebook on my Nook if the price isn't too bad. There are definitely ways that B&N could work on encouraging that relationship.

They could add a cheap camera to the Nook tablet (at least i don't think it has one already?) so you could scan the barcode of a book and have it take you straight to that page on the B&N site so you could purchase it right away without having to do a search. Maybe they could start stocking "preview" versions of books, a thin thing with the first 20 or so pages of a book so you could sample it and then scan the barcode if you liked it. That would let them pack a lot of books into limited shelf space and maybe eliminate the problem where you find something that looks interesting, but it turns out to be the third book in the series and they don't have the first two in the store.

But if you split the two companies then you've got a brick & mortar store that's going to struggle alone in the same market that Borders failed in, and an online store and ebook device that will be going up against Amazon and the Kindle alone with no clear competitive advantage. (Aside from geeks like me who like _slightly_ less DRM and companies that haven't gone insane with patenting everything that moves.)

Re:I don't understand (3, Insightful)

fast turtle (1118037) | about a year ago | (#43010907)

Nobody caught this but what I see is he's simply doing a land grab. All of the real property (stores and such) is worth quite a bit of money and he wants it all for pennies on the dollar. If he's successful, those physical locations can then be sold off for 10-100x what he paid out to take the company private. Very nice profit for him.

Re:I don't understand (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43010963)

So in 10 years or so the big box book stores will be gone, and all we will have are small boutique local bookshops. Just like what happened with record stores. I could live with that.

Re:I don't understand (1)

Eskarel (565631) | about a year ago | (#43011317)

I thought about that, but that presumes that the vast majority of B&N stores are on land actually owned by B&N, not 100% sure of that.

Re:I don't understand (3, Interesting)

Trepidity (597) | about a year ago | (#43012511)

That's actually the only reason we got some of my elderly relatives a Nook rather than a Kindle. Their eyesight isn't very good, and ebook readers are a nice way of reading reading books with zoomable text, with much better selection than traditionally available in large-print dead-tree books. But they aren't very skilled with technology either, so feel much more comfortable having a local store they can go to to buy the books, where someone loads them onto the device, rather than having to DIY it over the internet.

If the Nooks don't continue to be connected to the brick-and-mortar stores, it loses that advantage. Perhaps it's too niche to matter, though. Alternately, perhaps they'll keep up some kind of cross-service agreement even if the company is split.

Re:I don't understand (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43012509)

Perhaps those owners know something the general public doesn't... like perhaps there will be a sudden and unexpected literacy revival where everyone will start reading physical paper books again?

Hmm... perhaps.

They must be thinking something! They wouldn't be doing this if they thought they'd fail... It's like buying into blockbuster video... it seems crazy it might ever take off... but... those folks aren't crazy (except like foxes).

B&N Also need to get "with the times" (5, Interesting)

inflex (123318) | about a year ago | (#43010587)

If B&N want to improve their chances of success in the online/eBook market, they really need to sort out their PubIt side of matters. Currently unless you're in the US, or have gone through the extensive red-tape to obtain a US business cred, you are not permitted to get on board with directly publishing via PubIt. Conversely, Amazon and Kobo both allow international publishers to work directly through them.

While small publishers outside of the "Big 6" don't contribute a lot financially, as individuals there are however many many thousands of us, and a lot of our potential readers do have Nook units.

TLDR; B&N (PubIt) needs to be open for international publishers.

Re:B&N Also need to get "with the times" (2)

dido (9125) | about a year ago | (#43010697)

That's only half of it. They don't even seem to be open for international customers. As much as I'd like to get ebooks from B&N, the Nook app isn't even available outside of the US, whereas the Kindle app is. I downloaded the Nook app while I was in the US when I bought an Android tablet, intending to try to use it when I got home. Well, it never worked properly then, and uninstalling it and then trying to reinstall showed that the Nook app vanished from Google Play. And so I installed the Kindle app and now Amazon gets my money instead. Nicely played.

Re:B&N Also need to get "with the times" (1)

alexgieg (948359) | about a year ago | (#43013451)

They don't even seem to be open for international customers.

It's much worse than that. If they weren't open to them it'd be bad enough, but they're actually actively against them. I've been a customer of eReader and Fictionwise, two early ebook sellers, for almost a decade. At some point Fictionwise purchased eReader, so those two sources became one. Then B&N purchased Fictionwise and let it in Limbo for years, until recently they decided to shut it down for good. The good news, if you happened to be an US customer: you got your library moved to B&N! All the while losing the bajillion file formats Fictionwise offered! The bad news, if you happened to not be an US customer: your library is now gone! Hope you made a backup during the time they offered you to! Yay!

At this point I'm so pissed with B&N that even if they decide in future to start supporting non-US customers I'll refuse doing business with them, period. For me, it'll be Amazon all the way, specially because they've (finally) opened their Kindle store in Brazil so that I can get local support for the ereader (I continue to prefer the US Kindle store for ebooks though: many more titles, and more interesting ones at that).

Re:B&N Also need to get "with the times" (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43012377)

So it's come to this: a five-line post requires a TLDR. I weep for the humanity.

I'm not sure if that segment of retail can survive (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about a year ago | (#43010687)

Some segments of brick and mortar retail (consumer electronics in particular) can survive if they evolve appropriately. Bookstores, however, might just not be a segment that can. With consumer electronics a retailer would be smart to focus on actually understanding what items consumers need immediately (ie, waiting for shipping would be a really big deal) and carry those. However with bookstores there isn't that much available for "need to have it" - especially when you consider digital distribution. Unless a large portion of B&N's brick and mortar business comes from titles that are not on the bestseller lists (which you can generally pick up at your favorite discount retailer), they don't have a lot to run with.

Expect a much smaller B&N (4, Interesting)

erice (13380) | about a year ago | (#43010743)

One of the news bits omitted from TFAs but included in the BBC article is this:
The firm plans to shut a third of its stores by the end of the year. []


Barnes & Noble was originally a New York bookstore, which Mr Riggio bought out the branding rights to in the 1970s, before building out a successful US-wide chain.

Keeping a giant money losing company going would seem to be hopeless. I would expect that Riggio would reduce B&N's presence to only a few stores that he is sure can survive. Essentially save the company he started by sacrificing the behemoth that it has become.

Re:Expect a much smaller B&N (1)

Kenja (541830) | about a year ago | (#43010851)

Last time I was in one, they had just about made the transition to being a Starbucks knock off.

Re:Expect a much smaller B&N (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43014621)

Why would they be a knock off? B&N's partnership with Starbucks is well-established. I guess all brick and mortar stores are just gradually transforming into Starbuck's?

Re:Expect a much smaller B&N (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43011111)

A couple years ago I heard about B&N installing machines to manufacture a paperback book of your choosing in 15 minutes. But I've never seen one in action, and I've been in a fair number of their stores.

That kind of thing would be interesting, and could help with the disadvantage vis a vis Amazon of carrying inventory in each store. Maybe that's one thing Riggio has in mind.

Re:Expect a much smaller B&N (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43011999)

Actually it would be structure to shift assets to the private business and liabilities to the public. Then you dissolve the private business, rake in your gains, and walk away.

A lot of interesting pieces out there... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43010909)

Barnes and Noble: only remaining major bricks and mortar competitor to Amazon in US, well-liked by customers

Nook: technically outstanding tablet/e-reader

WebOS: good open source mobile OS

US Newspapers: need to migrate most of their business from print to mobile (tablet/e-reader) over the next 5-8 years

Local (1)

RedHackTea (2779623) | about a year ago | (#43010913)

Turn it into a supplier. Let local bookstores name the stores what they want, run it as they want, and use B&N as the book supplier. Keep the B&N website and nook. Also make the nook more attractive to local bookstore owners like kobo. []

Most depressing experience in a while! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43010993)

Last week I went into the B&N on 18th and 5th in NYC and it had to be one of the most depressing feelings I have experienced in a while. The entire computer section is just a couple of shelves, significantly smaller than the philosophy section, and the textbook section feels like a college book store where everything is organized by courses for the New School. Down the block the B&N by Union Square the Nook corner takes a good chunk of first floor space, and didn't make it all the way to the top, bu last I heard it was converted into a Toys R Us.

a sad day for civilization when bookstores are gone.

Re:Most depressing experience in a while! (1)

retchdog (1319261) | about a year ago | (#43011525)

Solution: walk east one block and south six blocks.

Anyway, the computer section being smaller than the philosophy section not only makes sense, but is pleasant. An entire floor of MCSE study guides and "Learn Javascript in Two Days!" gives one the vertigo. The mathematics and science section, now that's important.

Re:Most depressing experience in a while! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43012999)

All they have left in their Computer book section are things like Macs for Dummies, Ipads for dummies, and Windows 8 books.

When I saw that, I actually wondered if I had found the childrens computer books section. Alas that was all of the computer books.

fuPcker (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43011233)

distended. All I Crrek, abysmal guest and never get for a moment and sadness And it was followed. Obviously moronic, dilettante minutes now while dicks produced Completely before to have to decide I don't want to are having trouble To predict *BSD's NetBSD user guest and never get codebase became new core is going

The end of retail (1)

Animats (122034) | about a year ago | (#43011457)

First they came for the record stores, and I said nothing because I didn't go to record stores. Then they came for the video rental stores, and I said nothing because I didn't own a video rental store. Then they came for the bookstores, and I said nothing because it was hopeless.

Good riddance. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43011965)

The last three times I was in a B&N, I couldn't find the book I was looking for. Oh, they could order it, of course. The hell is the point of that? I can order it, through my Magical Intertubes.

It's not just bookstores, however: I've been disappointed in every category of store you can think of; failing to find the products I seek.

There's little sense in wasting time, gas and aggravation. The savings in all three more than make up for the slight delay and cost of shipping.

This 1s 6oatsex (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43011465)

[]. could sink your Posts. Therefore

When they came for... (2)

ThomasBHardy (827616) | about a year ago | (#43011493)

When the music industry switched to digital distribution, I was quiet for I wanted to download music.

When the games industry switched to digital distribution, I was quiet for I wanted to download games.

When the book industry switched to digital distribution, I despaired for I did not want digital books.

Not having grown up consuming book content on computers, but playing games and music on them, many of us are caught in the absurdity of supporting digital in many forms and rejecting it in others. Those younger than us will have fewer qualms as they learn to consume all content digitally.

I guess I'll just go ahead an complete my transition to grumpy old man with a hearty "You kids get off my lawn!"

Re:When they came for... (2)

Wildfire Darkstar (208356) | about a year ago | (#43011657)

It's not digital books that are hurting Barnes and Noble (and previously killed competitor Borders). E-books are a successful sidebar, and will very likely continue to grow. But the biggest threat to brick and mortar stores like B&N are online retailers like Amazon, and not even their Kindle offerings.

That bothers me more than anything else, really. I'm fine with digital books, movies, whatever. I've spent too many hours packing and sorting my dead tree book collection, not to mention finding places to put it all, to mythologize the format itself. But the best books I've ever read, I've found as a result of browsing the aisles at places like Barnes and Noble, and, before them, local retailers. That's an experience Amazon hasn't managed to duplicate, and they're considerably better at trying to do so that 90% of their online peers.

Re:When they came for... (1)

sesshomaru (173381) | about a year ago | (#43013119)

Yes, but I have a choice. Well, three choices actually:

1. Go to Barnes and Noble, browse and buy books. Paying a premium. (Oh, and never seeming to find the exact book I want when I go looking for something specific.)

2. Go to the Library and read for free, but have to deal with all the maple syrup stains on the books.

3. Buy cheap books for as low as I can get them (too low, really to keep a bricks and mortar retailer in operation) and not run out of books to read because I can actually afford them.

Frankly, it would make more sense, to assuage my guilt at the death of premium book retail, to just go into B&N every so often and hand the cashier some money. "Here, I know you guys are struggling."

But that would be silly...

Re:When they came for... (1)

dywolf (2673597) | about a year ago | (#43013609)

another threat was this stupid notion of trying to be everything....everything other than a bookstore.
Border. prime example. and B&N falls into this too.

When I go to these places I dont care about:
-the massive fancy furniture
-sitting there reading without buying
-while drinking a latte
-and using the WIFI
-the piles and piles of non-book product (DVD, VHS, etc)

When I go to a bookstore I want to get ... books. As shocking as that is.
Borders forgot that. And B&N too.

Waldenbooks was always where I went, for years. Til Borders bought them out, and then shut them down. And Waldenbooks was successful and still making money, that whole time.

Because they did one thing, they did it well, and they did just that thing: sell books.

No coffee stand with 2-3 coffee barristas (even at minimum wage, that's ~100k a year spent on 3 employees, and nowhere near making back that money on more sales). No public wifi for people to sit and use without buying. No fancy expensive furniture. Just lots of books. And if they didnt have it, they can order it, or tell you if the other store across town had it (even most small cities have more than 1 mall). Borders and B&N frequently cant do that because in many small cities/towns there IS NO other store, there's just the one. And by sitting in a mall rahter than having their own private giant box, Walden saved money.

So what did Borders do when they started having trouble? They shut down Waldenbooks of course! Not the giant boxes that cost them lots of money, no. Not the coffee counter no one cared about, no. Did it work? Of course not. Within another two years Borders was gone.

B&N is going to go the same way if they continue to ignore the books. And just stocking whatever the current bestsellers are isnt enough. Walk into B&N and ask for a book that's even maybe 6 months old, or slightly obscure (not on a BS list), and they look at you like you're an alien lifeform. Whereas Walden and other stores would look up the ISBN, order it (sometimes even from Amazon, whatever it took to get it), and call you when it came in. I got copies of even out of print books by authors I like that way, such as nearly all of Craig Thomas's work (author of Firefox and Winterhawk, two my favorites)

A Solution Emerges (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43011501)

B&N has indeed been depressed for far too long. Enough is enough.

Without going into accounting details ... I will vote Yes To The Motion Before The Board.

Happy Trails.

Founder? (1)

colinrichardday (768814) | about a year ago | (#43011709)

Barnes and Noble dates back to 1917. How old is this guy?

Interest rates are too low. (3, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | about a year ago | (#43011875)

What fuels "going private" are two things - low interest rates, and that interest paid by companies is deductible. "Going private" really means "leveraged buyout".

Companies can pay for their capital through dividends to stockholders through stock buybacks which push up the stock price (or compensate for dilution through stock options), or by paying interest. Only the first is taxable.

Tax policy and "quantitative easing" (i.e. central banks lending money at very low rates) fuel leveraged buyouts. Without those factors, "going private" would be a very rare event.

Re:Interest rates are too low. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43012913)

You forgot the immense regulatory burden that rests upon the shoulders of a publicly traded company. Going private saves a company millions per year in regulatory overhead.

Another huge plus for going private is getting retail investors' hands off of your company. Retail investors are idiots, and introduce huge volatility and uncertainty because they seldom make informed decisions, and often make poor decisions based on tiny slivers of news that make it into the mainstream media.

They also collectively control a huge number of shares - way more than corporate officers ever could hope to. Most companies are ~75% institutional, meaning that 75% of their shares are held by retail investors in their online brokerage accounts, where there is no safety check for buying and selling, and no intermediate step through a broker where there is an opportunity for the broker to say "hey wait a minute, that's a terrible idea."

There's no effing way I would take my company public, and I've been urged to on more than one occasion. Fortunately I own a huge majority of the shares and rule with an iron fist.

subject (1)

Legion303 (97901) | about a year ago | (#43013025)

Barnes and Noble sold my one-off email address to spammers. If they're really that hard up for money then, wait, fuck them.

I'd like to see B&N stores slashdotted (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43013045)

Can we get a slashdot effect on Barnes and Noble? Could we all storm the doors and buy a book this week? I seriously don't want this company to go under. My household already has 4 nooks, but I'll go buy a physical book this week. Two in fact, one for my wife.

B&N trains customers not to go to their stores (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43013203)

B&N has less inventory in their stores than they used to. I am sick of going to a store and not finding a book. If I do find a book in a store, it's full cover price. Even with their discount card's 10% off, it's cheaper on their own site which has books usually much cheaper than stores - 30%, 40%, 50% off. And B&N has their store inventory online, so you can see "out of stock" and not have to go to the store, so they don't get incidental purchases like magazines if you never actually go. Some day, the business book written about B&N's demise will be called "Out Of Stock" and explain all this in great detail.

Oh... and ... let me rant ... As a developer whose app triggered platform bugs on the Nook, I hope it dies a horrible, flaming death. My app was automatically rejected every time I submitted a new version because I triggered the platform bug. I had to open a support ticket every time and explain the bug again to get it approved. Everything bad about B&N's awful customer service is like 10x with the Nook developer program.

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