NEW YORK -- Barnes & Noble here has announced plans to buy Ingram Book Group, La Vergne, Tenn., this month.
Ingram is the largest book wholesaler in the country and supplies many supermarket book programs. It also supplies Amazon.com, Seattle, which is in direct competition for the on-line book-selling market with Barnes & Noble.
The $600 million deal immediately came under fire from Amazon.com and the American Booksellers Association, and it will be investigated by antitrust regulators and possibly by the Federal Trade Commission as well, said an official with the U.S. Department of Justice.
"With Barnes & Noble's proposed acquisition of the billion-dollar Ingram Book Co., there can be little doubt that the book industry is falling prey to the same anticompetitive ills that currently plague the computer-software and other industries," noted the ABA in calling for the Justice Department to block the deal.
In response, Barnes & Noble issued a statement saying, "The acquisition of Ingram is designed to improve the level of service Barnes & Noble can offer to its customers. At the same time, however, we expect to dramatically improve the services Ingram will offer to all its customers, beginning with a wider selection of titles and a deployment of the very best database in all of bookselling."
Ingram Entertainment, also in La Vergne, became a stand-alone company in 1995 under the leadership and ownership of David Ingram, president. The entertainment company is the nation's largest video distributor and supplies many supermarket video programs. The deal for Ingram's book division, industry observers said, would have little direct effect on the video company, except as an indicator of trends in wholesale and on-line distribution.