Trade volume doubled its three month average for Barnes & Noble (NYSE:BKS) on October 11. Coming off an interview with CEO William Lynch on CNBC that saw shares close up 7.5 percent on October 8, the stock closed up another 8 percent on October 10 on news that sales in the Nook division were growing faster than expected. On October 11, shares rose again.
Barnes & Noble’s market cap has grown over $100 million in a week and will pass $1 billion any moment at this rate. A recent $300 million investment in Barnes & Noble’s Nook Media venture by Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) put a $1.7 billion post-money valuation on the division. The company has also said that sales from its Nook division and college bookstores this fiscal year could grow to $3 billion. Barnes & Noble is clearly bullish on itself, planning to push the Nook platform into as many as nine foreign markets in the coming year.
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This is quite the rally for the last of America’s brick-and-mortar book giants, but there are legitimate concerns about the company’s ability to legitimately compete in the tablet and related content market.
On October 7, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) settled a copyright infringement case with the Association of American Publishers. Google is on a mission to digitize the world’s books and the company has been making a push to capture its own content streams for its Nexus tablets. Google’s Library Project, which seeks to digitize pretty much every book on the planet, along with Scholar, could compete with Nook and it’s college bookstore.
Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) is perhaps Barnes & Noble’s biggest rival. The e-commerce giant is understandably aggressive in the e-reader space and is expanding its print and digital publishing capacity. Disagreements between the two companies have led to Barnes & Noble pulling Amazon Publishing titles off its shelves. If the Nook ecosystem is as incredible as the hype wants it to be, the ongoing tablet wars could enter an interesting new season.
Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), of course, is the tablet industry giant. Any hope Nook has of success will depend in part on its ability to remain attractive in the face of the iPad and much-rumored iPad Mini. Apple’s iBooks is massively successful as a platform for reading and purchasing e-books.
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