Barnes & Noble's pending acquisition of Sterling Publishing continued to be the main topic of conversation in industry circles last week. B&N's largest competitor, Borders Group, weighed in on the deal, with spokesperson Anne Roman noting that Borders makes its book-buying choices based on the needs of its customers, rather than on who publishes the book. Nonetheless, Roman said, Borders will "assess its relationship" with Sterling as events move forward.

Among publishers, those who compete with Sterling continued to express the most apprehension about the deal. One publishing executive worried that the purchase would cut into the range of titles carried by the chain. "This kind of thing affects the diversity of the retail experience. The health of publishing depends on creativity, and this kind of trend is not creative," he said. Another executive was less pessimistic about the deal, observing that while he doesn't like the purchase, he was confident that B&N would make sure that all titles get some exposure.

Meanwhile, in a December 13 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, B&N confirmed that the price it paid for Sterling "was in the $100 million range."