December 3, 2010
What's up with Barnes & Noble?
Earlier in the week their stock tanked because they announced a higher than normal earnings loss, around $1.15 per share compared to a projected 65 cents. It has rebounded somewhat. The only saving grace for stockholders is that the company preserved the annual dividend payout. Then messages started to appear on the acquisitions listserv that B&N abruptly stopped accepting purchase orders for items, requiring cash or credit purchases. These came from representatives of major academic library systems. Although universities have credit cards for purchases, they place many restrictions on their use to avoid abuse. The upshot is that this move will likely draw business away from the bookstore when they seem to need it most.
It's ironic, as the book chain is a leading academic bookstore for student course materials. News of stores closing, ugly struggles for control of the company, debt, and now competition from Google's bookstore finally opening before the end of the year are just some of the troubles B&N faces. If cutting off purchase orders as a business method is a reaction to the chain's problems, there may be worse things happening below the surface. [MG]