Rumor: Apple Wants To Buy Barnes & Noble. Uh, Come Again?

Rumor: Apple Wants To Buy Barnes & Noble. Uh, Come Again?

Just a few days after rumors started springing up that Apple intended on buying streaming video service (and Netflix competitor) Hulu comes an even odder rumors, courtesy of BGR: Apple is in talks to buy Barnes & Noble out from under them. What?

According to BGR’s “unproven source,” the idea here is that Apple could pay $1.5 billion out of its vast cash hoards and secure all of Barnes & Noble’s eBooks and digital publications library, then fold them into their own iBookstore.

Again, what? This just doesn’t make any sense to me. Why would Apple buy out a competitor’s library when they can just sign deals with publishers to bring that same content to iBooks? It’s not like Barnes & Noble’s ebook library wouldn’t have to be translated to iBooks format anyway, so Apple’s not really gaining a lot here by buying B&N just for the ebook library.

The other part of this rumor is that Apple would just replace Barnes & Noble’s retail locations and replace them with Apple Stores. Again, this seems like just a huge amount of work and overhead to do the same thing that can be accomplished without buying B&N: just open more physical retail stores.

Consider me way skeptical of this. I just don’t see what Apple would have to gain. This unproven source of BGR’s then went on to claim that that iTunes 11 would be released in September along with iOS 5 and iCloud, and will support reading iBooks on computers as well as textbook purchases and rentals. That, at least, is plausible enough.

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  • pafford

    I don’t want to state the obvious here, but it looks like I must. Nook. The only viable ebook readers are Kindle, iPad and Nook. Nook is the only mainstream competition to iPad because it’s cheap and can be hacked. If Apple can consume the 3rd elephant in the room prior to Amazon rolling out a tablet computer — well, it’s a very desirable position. Not to mention retail clout. Non-Apple users think they are going into a Scientology reeducation camp when they enter an Apple store. If you start selling iPads at the book store you go where the consumer is and Apple has a huge win vs Amazon. Still, very unlikely deal — but more clear advantages than this post outlines.

  • Wayne_Luke

    Barnes and Noble controls 20% of the eBook market. Their Library is over 2 million books currently plus they have agreements with all the publishers. Barnes and Noble also has people self-publishing on their platform. They also have better prices and the book marketing tools in place.

    My wife and I have bought dozens of eBooks from Barnes and Noble over the last year. We haven’t bought any from Apple’s iBookstore. Either the title simply isn’t available or costs 30-40% more. Apple has struck out with negotiating deals with the publishers or their library would be much larger. If Apple can absorb Barnes and Noble, keep the superior format and prices, they have a chance of gaining that 20% market share. This would allow them to compete against Amazon, who is rumored to be releasing a full tablet soon. 

    Barnes and Noble and Hulu represent two weak points in Apple’s Content machine. Books and Streaming Television. Both would be good acquisitions for going up against Amazon. Up until now, they have had to compete against competitors that rely on Google’s marketplace for content. Amazon has a much larger repository of content available to them than Google does.

  • -Vince

    Woohoo!  Baltimore for the win!

    PS… That ESPNZone closed last year.

    PPS… Apple buying B&N: Not going to happen.

  • Kathy Hilliard Lies

    not likely.

  • Dani Fankhauser

    Apple competes with Amazon. B&N competes with Amazon. “With our forces combined…”

  • Denis Evans

    Makes sense to me. Why try negotiating all those publishing rights. Just buy them wholesale! Saves time saves money. And buy the Nook out as well. THen maybe they can really compete with Amazon in the book space. Simple fast and easy.

  • Thomas sutton

    Doubt it will happen but its interesting to think about… 

  • gregbraddock

    i feel very special that they used Baltimore’s flagship B&N for the photo! Go B-more! 

  • bav14

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    http://applefanboynews.com/

  • bav14

    I found this new apple blog and it great!http://applefanboynews.com/

About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his wife and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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