John C. Malone, the media billionaire, who made a billion dollar offer to acquire Barnes & Noble, which had gone for almost a year without finding a suitor, told the movers and shakers at the Allen Company Conference in Sun Valley that the Barnes & Noble acquisition was “a bit of a flier for us, on whether Barnes & Noble can play competitively with the likes of Apple and Amazon in the digital transformation.  That’s really the bet.”
The New York Times’ Dealbook also quoted Malone describing the carnage in the bookselling business: “It’s kind of like the people that survive a small pox epidemic.  If you’re still alive, well, maybe you got a chance of a long life.”
But in spite of the turmoil in book market and even though the digital revolution and Barnes & Noble’s nook e-reader are what makes the acquisition an interesting gamble for Malone’s Liberty Media, Malone also sees value in the Barnes & Nobles brick-and-mortar stores because “publishers like the existing physical bookstores, they like having a partner in distribution who lives and dies in the book business, as opposed to just commoditizing it, which these other players do.”