There’s an old Murphy’s Law that says, “The day you decide to sell your soul, you’ll find souls are a glut on the market.” That seems applicable to Barnes and Noble, which has been searching for a buyer for months without much luck. Bloomberg reports that it seems likely B&N will end its search without finding a buyer.
According to sources close to the bidding, a major reason for bidder reluctance had to do with B&N’s e-book sales in light of competition from Amazon’s Kindle—prospective bidders were concerned that it might take too long for Barnes & Noble to generate more digital sales. I wouldn’t be surprised if the hoopla surrounding Borders’s bankruptcy also had something to do with making buyers leery of getting into the same market as Amazon.
That hasn’t stopped B&N execs from making rosy predictions about the future of e-books. CNN’s Fortune section reports that B&N exec Mark Parrish predicted that e-books would begin overtaking printed books within the next 24 months (though he subsequently said he didn’t meant to put a specific timeline on the shift). Industry research reports predict that 20 times as many e-readers will be sold in 2011 as in 2009, and that before long readers will begin preferring e-books to print. (Found via Gadgetell.)
It’s not clear whether the lack of a purchaser is going to have immediate consequences for Barnes & Noble. There have been no signs of impending bankruptcy as with Borders. One Borders shareholder, Ron Burkle, wanted to purchase a majority stake in the company, but founder Len Riggio managed to stymie his attempt.