Primary.com, which launched today, is working directly with manufacturers in an attempt to sell products at lower prices than traditional retail brands.
Liberty had hoped to buy all of the retail chain, but settles for a 17% stake in Barnes & Noble.
Opening a new and unexpected chapter in the life of Barnes & Noble Inc., Liberty Media Corp. last month altered an earlier proposal to buy the bookseller outright and instead agreed to pay $204 million for a 17% share of the retailer.
Liberty Media, which owns and operates online and TV retailer QVC Corp. and several other growing e-commerce brands, covets Barnes & Noble's position in digital content that the retailer has built around its Nook electronic book reader, says Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei. "We are excited about Barnes & Noble's prospects as the leading bookseller in the U.S. and its growth opportunities in the digital world," he says.
Liberty's investment follows a period of strong web sales for Barnes & Noble. For the 2011 fiscal year ended April 30, Barnes & Noble reported a 49.8% year-over-year rise in e-commerce sales to $858.1 million from $572.7 million, as sales at bricks-and-mortar sales other than college book stores dipped by 0.9% to $4.36 billion from $4.40 billion. Sales at the company's college book stores more than doubled to $1.78 billion from $833.6 million, helping to drive up total sales by more than 20% to $6.99 billion from $5.81 billion. m