Barnes & Noble says Liberty Media wants to buy it for a billion

Barnes & Noble, one of the few book shop powerhouses left standing, has announced digital media conglomerate and owner of QVC Liberty Media wants to buy it.

The Fortune 500 book peddler, which has somehow managed to avoid the fate of Waterstones and Borders, has been offered $17 per share in cash. As usual with pre-announcement announcements, there are all sorts of hoops that must be jumped through if a sale is to go ahead.

A definitive purchase agreement would need to be signed, there will need to be approval from regulators and shareholders and a receipt of debt financing will have to be drafted up. Barnes & Noble says its special committee has some thinking to do, and its chairman Leonard Riggio must still continue equity ownership and have a place in management.

It also warns shareholders and others trading that the whole proposal has not yet been evaluated, and that there is no assurance for a definitive offer. But Barnes & Noble felt the statement was worth releasing to the press and public anyway, and in turn, shares shot up 24 percent in after-hours trading on Thursday.

Meanwhile Barnes & Noble is rumoured to be showing off a new e-reader next week in an effort to keep afloat above other big guns like Apple and Amazon

The Wall Street Journal says it’s hosting an event on Tuesday to tie in with the annual booksellers’ convention in New York. 

Barnes & Noble, while not punching in the same weight as Amazon with its Kindle, has had something of a surprise success with its Nook e-reader.

Liberty Media clearly sees potential in the brand, unlike many other old bookshops which went the way of the dodo, popular as they were as a copy of Ulysses placed next to a stack of discounted Russell Brand My Booky Wooks.

That other book shop, Waterstones, has also changed hands. Since being acquired by HMV, it has decided it’s had quite enough and agreed to conditionally sell the business to the friendly-sounding A&NN Capital Fund Management Limited – the company sort-of overseen by Boris Yeltsin advisor and Livejournal investor Alexander Mamut. 

The total cash consideration will sit at £53 million, or $86 million USD. HMV has said the aptly named disposal will mean a boost to HMV Group’s capital structure, though the deal is dependent on shareholder approval. It will also be conditional on receipt of approval from the Pensions Regulator as well as HMV Group’s lending banks.

June 2011 is the date when we can expect Waterstone’s assets to be stripped.