I read today’s article in the WSJ on Barnes & Noble’s latest acquisition with great interest.
Let me share with you my observations in bold and how it relates to Repositioning &
Corporate Development.

Barnes & Noble purchased Fictionwise for $15.7 million – seems a reasonable price to take out a leading player in one of the fastest growing publishing categories.

Amid the industry downturn Borders on Thursday said it is laying off 742 employees –
i.e. not only is Barnes & Noble acquiring a high growth niche, one of its competitors is going in a different direction.

The vendors decided to sell because “the business is exploding and we needed to partner with a corporation that could provide us with necessary firepower” – Brilliant, it makes the buyer look great, it makes the seller look great and it’s a credible reason for selling, brilliant compelling story.
and there’s more……………..

Fictionwise will operate as an independent subsidiary –
think of the seller’s staff reading this, great motivating point

Barnes & Noble even admit they got it wrong first time – in September 2003 they closed the online arm down because of lack of public interest – again brilliant honesty

And just to ram home the economics of online books – the article highlights customers are able to download best sellers for $9.99 compared to $25 in the bookstores.

Lesson: audit the signals of your marketplace and continually check that your positioning and business models are still relevant.