For those of you who remember the 1988 romantic comedy Sleepless in Seattle starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, it was a large mega-bookstore that was destroying smaller neighborhood book stores. This was the story of Barnes & Nobel until the disrupter was itself disrupted by Amazon where a warehouse full of books was accessible with a simple search – followed by a click for payment and fulfillment. There is little or no doubt that Barnes & Nobel has fallen on hard times, not only being marginalized by cheap, well-written e-books, but facing non-traditional outlets like Walmart, Target, K-Mart, and libraries who are electronically lending e-books books at no cost, no physical visit necessary Add digital-age piracy of intellectual property and you have forces that limit the growth of bookstores, large and small.
Will Barnes & Nobel go the way of Borders, Blockbuster, Toys ‘R Us, Circuit City, and Radio Shack? Or can an activist investor or other entity restructure the enterprise?
Published reports have Barnes & Nobel considering a buy-out from Elliott Advisors, a London, England-based hedge fund or an offer by book distributor Readerlink that services non-traditional sellers like Walmart and Target. If Elliot succeeds in their offer, they will be operating the largest bookstore chains in the United States and United Kingdom.
Whatever the outcome, employees should be watching with increased vigilance.
Change is coming. There will always be a tomorrow, no matter how much you may try to ignore it. There are no guarantees in life, or promises for a bright future. Just because something bad hasn't happened yet, doesn't mean it won't. It can happen to anyone, anytime, anywhere. No one is guaranteed to wake up tomorrow and still have a job by evening. Are you now wondering, Am I Next?