That’s the word from the Wall Street Journal and Publisher’s Lunch Deluxe regarding Barnes & Noble’s sale of Sterling Publishing, of which Lark Books is an imprint. From the Journal:
Barnes & Noble Inc. has put its Sterling Publishing business up for sale, say people familiar with the situation, signaling a likely end to its decades-long involvement in the publishing of its own books. The book retailer has been in publishing since the 1970s and expanded the effort in 2003, when it acquired Sterling for about $115 million.
Now, however, Barnes & Noble, facing intense competition from Amazon.com Inc., is recasting itself as a technology company with emphasis on its Nook e-reading devices and its Nook tablet. The sale of Sterling would allow Barnes & Noble to focus on its core businesses. A spokeswoman for Barnes & Noble on Wednesday declined to comment.
Sterling publishes mainly nonfiction titles in such categories as puzzles and games, gardening, cooking, and crafts, as well as children’s books. …
In July 2009 Barnes & Noble consolidated a separate in-house publishing business into Sterling and laid off a small number of employees, citing a need for greater efficiency. The publishing house boasts an estimated 6,000 plus title base of e-books and print books, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing earlier this year. Its catalog includes more than 500 books in the Barnes & Noble Classics and its Library of Essential Reader series.
BN paid $115 million when they acquired Sterling, far more than the
underbidder, in what was then considered an “aggressive” bid. (The deal
closed in January 2003.) But the Sterling purchase was part of an earlier BN
strategy for making Wall Street happy. At the time, they were trying to
persuade investors that their goal was to make proprietary books 10 percent
of sales–which would have made them as big as the largest trade publishers.
Over the years, Barnes & Noble folded their own successful proprietary
publishing programs into Sterling, which has a backlist of over 5,000
But publishing has not been Barnes & Noble’s focus for many years, and the
company never integrated Sterling into their ebook strategy, which is
driving the company going forward. While Amazon is investing heavily in
their in-house publishing program, Barnes & Noble is headed in the opposite
direction as part of their repositioning as a technology company. The sale
of Sterling will provide a cash infusion (likely in the $60 million to $90
million range) and maybe even a tax writedown for good measure.