What’s B&N’s Survival Strategy?
WSJ analysis piece summarizes the challenges facing Barnes & Noble, also highlighting some strengths. A second, short piece is a Q&A with B&N chairman Leonard Riggio that was conducted several weeks before his just-revealed second sale of B&N shares. One highlight: Asked if B&N may at some point introduce a smaller, 15K-sq.-ft. bookstore format, Riggio says: “Yes, it’s possible.
Elle, Esquire Editors Swap Writers for One Issue
The two Hearst titles are grabbing attention with a novel move with their May issues: swapping writers. In Elle, Esquire editor Ross McCammon has an article explaining the nuances of the Esquire man to women. In Esquire, Elle writers offer female viewpoints on sex.
Smithsonian’s 1st Celebrity Cover: Patrick Stewart
Michael Caruso, a former editor of Details, Los Angeles Magazine, Maximum Golf and Men’s Journal, is bringing a celebrity touch as editor of Smithsonian magazine. The May issue will mark its first celebrity cover, featuring Patrick Stewart, who played Captain Jean-Luc Picard on “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and Professor Charles Xavier in “X-Men” films. Stewart will also be part of The Future Is Here Festival, a three-day Smithsonian conference with a “science meets science fiction” theme, in Washington, D.C., May 16-18. “We won’t be doing celebs every issue, but we will when it makes sense,” says Caruso.
CEO Explains Why Emmis is Suing NYT Over Editor Hire
Emmis Communications CEO Jeff Smulyan tells NY Post that he never intended to block Texas Monthly editor-in-chief Jake Silverstein from jumping ship to join the New York Times Magazine as its editor. Smulyan says Emmis was always willing to release Silverstein, but told the Times that it expected to be compensated, since the editor was under a three-year contract that doesn’t expire until February 2015. He maintains that the Times said that was fine, but then “refused to negotiate.” He also asserts that the NYT’s initial story on April 11, which reported Texas Monthly intended to sue Silverstein for breach of contract, was wrong. Emmis is believed to be looking for a mid six-figure sum to settle the matter. The Times said it still expects Silverstein to take up his new role in mid-May. Meanwhile, Texas Monthly is mulling whether to hand the job to the No. 2 editor, Brian Sweany, or to look outside.
Analyst: Kroger May Have Eyed Safeway
Kroger Co. may have considered making a bid for Safeway, but was apparently put off by the costs associated with anticipated divestitures it would have had to make to obtain antitrust clearance, a Wall Street analyst said Thursday. According to Karen Short, an analyst with Deutsche Bank, New York, a proxy statement filed by Safeway this week said a large retail grocery chain, referred to as “Company A,” had expressed an interest in Safeway—a company Short believes was likely Kroger. Short, citing information in the proxy, said that Company A submitted a preliminary non-binding letter on March 5 indicating interest in pursuing an acquisition but saying it would need to meet with potential co-investors that could purchase stores Company A would need to divest to get antitrust clearance. A day later, legal and financial advisers from Company A conducted a due diligence review—the same day Safeway and Cerberus disclosed their agreement to merge by year’s end. The Safeway proxy, she reported, said a senior executive of Company A told Goldman Sachs on March 21 that his company would not submit a bid, saying the costs associated with anticipated divestitures made Company A’s directors conclude that the company was not prepared to pay a price that would exceed the Cerberus bid, because it would not realize a sufficient return on its investment.
Wal-Mart Offers Money Transfer Service, With Slashed Fees
W-M has partnered with Ria Money Transfer to launch the Walmart-2-Walmart Money Transfer Service. The service will let customers transfer money to and from more than 4,000 of its stores as of April 24. W-M said that using its service will cost up to 50% less than other options (such as Western Union, Xoom and MoneyGram). With the W-M service, consumers can transfer as much as $50 for a $4.50 fee and up to $900 (the highest amount allowed) for a $9.50 fee. W-M said that while the service may help drive traffic, its main purpose is to provide a convenient service for customers. “We’re doing what we do best—launching a new service that challenges the status quo and drives down prices for our customers,” stated Daniel Eckert, SVP of services for Walmart U.S. MoneyGram, which has provided money-transfer services in Walmart stores since 2001, said it was surprised by the move, reports WSJ. MoneyGram’s shares dropped 17.7% yesterday after the announcement, while Western Union’s fell 5%. W-M said it will continue to offer the MoneyGram service (which allows for transferring amounts over $900). W-M recently signed another three-year contract with MoneyGram, which lasts until 2016. Marketing Daily rounds up various media coverage of the news.