As bookseller Borders is trying to create its own digital strategy, it may acquire Barnes & Noble to give it the boost needed to be competitive in the e-books space. The market right now is growing big, and we’re seeing Apple, Barnes & Noble, and more recently Google entering the space to compete in the market that Amazon and Sony had once dominated and helped to forge.
Borders had filed a notice with the Securities and Exchange Commission stating its intent to buy Barnes & Noble for $16 per share or a mixture of cash and stock. However, the bookseller was cautious in its notice to acquire its larger rival, stating that there is no guarantee that a deal would be completed.
Thus far, Amazon is still the e-books leader with its Kindle reading device and Kindle book store. Numbers are still being debated, but Barnes & Noble and Apple are both claiming about 20 percent market share for their Nook/Nook e-book store and iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch with the iBooks store front. With Google throwing its weight into the ring, those numbers will likely change again.
With the market for dedicated readers being attacked now by the emerging market for consumer tablets running on the Android and iOS platforms, the focus has shifted away from dedicated hardware to web strategies for selling digital books. For their parts, Amazon, Google, Borders, and Barnes & Noble have all made books purchased through their respective stores available and readable on other platforms. For instance, books purchased on Amazon’s Kindle’s book store can be read on any generation of Kindle devices with E-Ink display, on a Mac or PC, or on a number of smartphones, including the iPhone and other Android phones.
Currently, Borders has its own e-reader device that ties into the Kobo bookstore. If a deal with Barnes & Noble is completed, it is expected that Borders may utilize the Barnes & Noble bookstore and more recognizable Nook brand moving forward.
Barnes & Noble has also been diversifying its strategy. Its first device, the Nook, was created as a traditional e-reader with an E-Ink display, which boasts long battery life and a pleasant screen that’s readable sans glare in direct sunlight. However, since then, the company has debuted the Nook Color, which is a heavily customized Android tablet that shifts the focus of Android tablets to a reading market, making emails, browsing, and other functions secondary to the Nook’s primary reading purpose.