Liberty Recalibrates Barnes & Noble Plan

(Reuters) – John Malone’s Liberty Media Corp, which in May offered to buy Barnes & Noble Inc, is exploring additional options, including making only a small investment in the U.S. book store chain rather than buying it outright, a source familiar with the matter said.

But talks between the two companies are still under way and no decision has been made either way, meaning Liberty could still decide to buy the whole company, the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the talks are private. The recent stock market volatility has given Liberty pause, the source said.

Barnes & Noble shares were down 10.4 percent at $13.01 on Wednesday afternoon.

Liberty offered to pay $17 per share, or $1 billion, for the bookstore chain, drawn by the success of its Nook e-reader, which has helped make Barnes & Noble the second biggest seller of digital books after Amazon.com Inc.

Barnes & Noble has been dealing with a decline in sales of print books and operates about 710 stores. The chain now claims to have a 25 percent share of the U.S. market for e-books.

Barnes & Noble put itself up for sale last year, but only Liberty Media has made a formal offer.

A spokeswoman for Barnes & Noble declined to comment, and Liberty did not immediately return a call for comment.

(Reporting by Jessica Hall and Phil Wahba, editing by Dave Zimmerman)