Barnes & Noble announced Friday that it would give away a Nook Simple Touch with the purchase of any Nook HD from Sunday through Saturday -- really? Buy one, get one free e-readers? C'mon. Someone has a surplus. And this is not the first time the book seller has given away Nooks. Last year, the company was offering free or discounted e-readers (depending on the type of Nook) to anyone who signed up for a one-year subscription to People or The New York Times. Of course, that promotion lasted around eight weeks -- this one is lasting for less than eight days, but it points to an issue. You don't pull a buy-one, get-one deal unless you are trying to get rid of stock, regardless of the length of the promotion. Imagine for a minute that your favorite retailer said that for the next week, everything in the store was buy one, get one free -- it wouldn't sit right. Most people would assume that the store is really down in sales, possibly even going out of business. I'm not saying that is the case here -- I'm just saying that the fact of offering such a "bargain" points to a greater issue at the company. At a minimum, Barnes & Noble should be managing its manufacturing process better so that such surpluses are not a fact of business.
Then there is the fact that Barnes & Noble cut the number of Simon & Schuster titles it carries. The reduction is reportedly the result of a disagreement over money, but still.
With all this going on, I have a hard time believing that Barnes & Noble will be able to reach the $18.40 mean one-year price target, as seen on Yahoo! Finance, let alone the $38 forecast by Barron's. While Microsoft's ( MSFT) investment in the company last year could point to something, Barnes & Noble is certainly not going to get "there" by shutting out one of the largest book publishers in the world. I say, short Barnes & Noble. With moves like this, and the way the market is moving toward digital media, the book retailer won't have a leg to stand on before long. --Written by Renee Butler in Seattle, WA At the time of publication the author had no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Follow @ReneeAnnButler This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.