Liberty Media Takes a Stake in Barnes & Noble

Posted by at 12:07 am on August 19, 2011

Barnes & Noble reached a halfway deal with Liberty Media following Liberty’s original takeover attempt. Rather than buy the company, the TV network operator will buy about 16.6 percent of Barnes & Noble’s shares, or about $204 million. In return for the cash infusion, Liberty would get two places on the board of directors.

Liberty is dropping talk of a buyout in the wake of the deal.

Barnes & Noble chair Leonard Riggio made it clear the money was already earmarked for the Nook devices and online store. “The additional capital will further fuel the explosive growth of our digital strategy,” he said.

A lack of a sale may be a partial disappointment for Barnes & Noble, which could have received $1 billion for a full sale. An investment still comes at a crucial moment for the bookseller, which is still trying to reduce its dependency on paper books and physical stores in favor of the Nook and downloads. It has already seen the consequences of slipping behind after Borders’ liquidation and will be keen to avoid Borders’ sluggishness in adapting to digital reading.

The Nook Color is increasingly its flagship device and managed to deliver the Amazon Kindle its first major upset in years by taking the top spot in e-readers early this year. Many believe Amazon’s upcoming Android tablet is as much a response to the Nook Color as it is the iPad and other regular tablets.

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