Times are tough for Barnes & Noble right now. The Los Angeles Times calls the company a “besieged giant” and reports that not only is B&N facing declining brick-and-mortar sales and trying to play catch-up to Amazon in the e-book market, but a renowned investor with a history of buying and selling grocery chains now has his eye on Barnes & Noble stock.

Ron Burkle is trying to buy up enough B&N stock to become the largest single shareholder, and Barnes & Noble’s board has adopted a “poison pill” shareholder rights plan to try to fend off the takeover. Meanwhile, store sales have declined for the last 15 months. Even though online sales increased by 32%, that has not been enough to keep profits from declining.

But apparently the fact that Burkle is interested in the company at all means that he expects its prospects to improve. The article notes Burkle has been seen to follow a classic “buy low, sell high” strategy, buying “reputable-but-troubled companies” cheaply and selling after they’ve turned around.

And Barnes & Noble seems to agree, at least regarding its prospects for improvement:

“Physical books and bookstores will continue to be a very important part of this big industry,” said William Lynch, president of Barnes & Noble.com. “Anyone that says the physical book business is going away is just not paying attention or just doesn’t know much about the industry.”

Brave talk, or industry expertise? Regardless, Barnes & Noble continues to expand its e-book business, with a recent announcement that it will have a version of its eReader available for the iPad at around the time of device’s launch. If the iPad sells as well as people expect, it could be a big boost for the fortunes of any company with iPad-compatible e-book applications.


  1. More on your dream guy Ronnie Burkle. Burkles legacy includes building more homes that turned out to be LEMONS than any other homebuilder in history. Just Google KB Home Sucks. Please post your complaints with this Burkle – who thought he was a homebuilder, just there to bilk Fanny and Freddy out of their mortgages along with, countrywide (aka kb home countrywide mortgage) , to the FTC Federal Trade Commission. The article sounds like another press release by KB Home. Enough with KB Home lies misleading the public and the government guess no one wants to do the sting on KB Homes deceptive practices not even the media since KB’s Board runs them too. KB Home ignores customer’s complaints and does not repair in a timely manner in TOTAL violation the 1979 FTC Consent order. What do you call timely? Still waiting after 20 months for KB Home to repair major defects? Where is the responsibility of KB Homes board including Stephen Bollenbach and Ron Burkle who are trying to control Barnes and Noble – Shareholders please say no to these 2 KB Home directors, it won’t be beneficial to elect them to the board of B and N.

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