Barnes & Noble is set to go private. The interesting part will be the change in strategy that Elliot Management may implement. The largest physical book retailer in the United States faced many years of decline, despite catering to the tech needs with the Nook devices and app.
The perpetual growth and expanse of technology severely impacted the viability of making bookstore chains and libraries. While some people enjoy the feel and smell of an actual book, others gladly trade away the experience for the convenience associated with digital books, possessing numerous books on a single device. Moreover, the availability of programs that read the book aloud is something hard to pass up.
Some libraries countered the trend by adapting their services and space utilization to better serve their communities. Many provide classes, worker assistance, tax services, and other services beyond book and video rental. In addition, many provide convenient spots for people to study or work in quiet and semi-comfortable environments.
A path forward for Barnes & Noble may include some similar elements. One may suggest adopting an internet cafe model to some degree, reducing inventory cost by trading bookshelves for tables and chairs. Additionally, it might want to provide access to certain content exclusive to the in-store experience or subscriber network. Balancing the dwindling market for physical books with the desire for convenient spaces to work or surf the web may be appealing and profitable.
Barnes & Noble has partnerships with some colleges for supplying books and operating the related stores. Also, it has partnerships with Starbucks for on-site cafes, which could help expand the internet cafe idea. Barnes & Noble has many opportunities to avoid the fate of Borders and others if it makes strategic choices.
The public will wait and see.