May 31, 2011, 5:09 PM

QVC's parent makes a play for Barnes & Noble

With its eye on the bookseller’s expertise in selling digital products and its popular Nook e-reader, Liberty Media is offering to pay close to $1 billion for the venerable retail chain.

With a good read on the transition to digital book sales, Liberty Media Corp. is out to get multichannel bookseller Barnes & Noble Inc. and is willing to pay close to $1 billion.

"Barnes & Noble is the established leader in bookselling and is at the forefront of the transition to digital, with a management team that has demonstrated expertise in operations and positioned the company for growth in a dynamic marketplace," Liberty Media said when announcing the planned acquisition last month.

Liberty already owns online and TV retailer QVC and several other online retailers including sports gear merchant Backcounty.com, gift retailer RedEnvelope.com and Proflowers.com. The company is offering to pay $17 per share for 57 million outstanding shares of Barnes & Noble, bringing the value of the deal to about $969 million.

Barnes & Noble, which put itself up for sale last year, says sales at its e-commerce operation, BarnesandNoble.com, grew 64% year over year in the third quarter ended January 29, while comparable-store sales grew 7.3%. It says both online and store sales were sparked by strong consumer demand for its Nook e-reader and related accessories.

mark@verticalwebmedia.com

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