The biggest book retailer Barnes & Noble is on the block. As the bookstore struggles to compete with cheap Internet pricing models and e-books, it is seeking a buyer to swoop in and save the company. But the question is: who would buy it?
First, you have to wonder what traditional book retailer could survive if Barnes & Noble is struggling. It has all of the advantages of scale. The retailer even began flirting with e-books with its Nook, though the Amazon Kindle and Apple iPad provide fierce competition in that sphere. The company that once put small bookstores out of business through its novelty of scale might fall pretty to other innovations by failing to stay at the cusp of what's next.
In a Reuters article on the news, one analyst comments on the potential sale of Barnes & Noble:
"How do you value an asset for the future when the entire market is being essentially turned upside down?" said Forrester analyst James McQuivey
This captures the key challenge that Barnes & Noble faces. Some assume that digital books are the future, but it's unlikely that paper books will disappear entirely. How does Barnes & Noble strike a balance? In a best-case scenario its business strategy will have to evolve as the market does -- and we don't know where it will end up even in the medium-term.