Recent news indicates that Borders Group(NYSE:BGP) has filed an intent to purchase rival bookseller Barnes & Noble(NYSE:BKS) as of this past Monday. Nothing is set in stone, as of yet, but this could have some interesting and far-reaching effects on the eReader and eBook marketplace should it some to pass. Borders has been trying for some time to enter into the Kindle dominated eReader market, but buying the company currently making the second most popular eReader on sale today (sometimes estimated to hold as much as 10% of the market) would give them some real hope of making a place for themselves.
While Borders did manage to make a big splash a while back by bringing the basic, but functional, Kobo eReader to the public for just $150 at a time when popular eBook readers such as the Kindle hadn’t managed to make it below $250 yet, the prompt price matching on the parts of Amazon and B&N left it somewhat dead in the water, so to speak. They also run into the problem of having no device integrated book store to draw from, complicating the process and reducing potential income from impulse buyers and people who use their computers infrequently. Yes, there is the fact that Borders chooses to host a whole collection of eBook Readers in their stores, but none have managed to capture public attention for any length of time lately, including the Sony Reader collection. Picking up the fully grown Nook product line would turn this around completely.
This cannot really be seen as a great move in terms of business unless you look specifically at the eBook marketplace, given the state of things right now. Let’s face it, neither Borders nor Barnes & Noble are doing that well as the last remaining brick & mortar bookstores with any real nationwide presence these days. While combining the companies might result in a short-term boost in revenue, since one aspect of the competition would indeed have been eliminated, the real fights these days are between either online and physical sales environment or paper and digital books. That’s to say nothing about the fact that B&N isn’t exactly without its own troubles right now that Borders would have to address.
So, if it happens, what can we hope for? It’s really rather hard to say. B&N does have a very nice eBook store set up, and I’m certain that that would see even more emphasis as time goes on, but competition is getting pretty extreme lately and newcomers like Google aren’t going to make it easy to stay near the top no matter what the state of the Barnes & Noble ownership is. I am rather hoping it doesn’t happen though, mostly because of the uncertainty of what would happen with the B&N stores. The Kindle is at the moment the superior eReader in pretty much every other way I care about, but it’s great to be able to break out the nook when I’m out shopping and have a chance to hang out there for a while since the preview feature makes for some great relaxation.