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IPO sours Barnesandnoble.com music store

Music sales were set to begin in March, but the company's on-again, off-again initial public offering has pushed the store's opening back to sometime this summer.

Barnesandnoble.com may have had a highly successful IPO, but it sounded a sour note for its online music store.

In November, Barnesandnoble.com had said that it expected the music shop to be and running by the end of March. But its on-again, off-again initial public offering has distracted management.

"Obviously that slipped," said Ben Boyd, the company's director of corporate communications, who said vaguely that the music store will open "in the summer." He noted that about 150 music titles are offered today in the "gifts" section of the site.

Dealings with Wall Street and German partner Bertelsmann, the giant publisher with multiple online ventures, have drawn management attention since the November announcement, Boyd said.

"That was shortly after the joint venture with Bertelsmann started, then we went from joint venture back into IPO mode. Also since then, we became a public company--that's a large undertaking in terms of focus and resources," he said.

"It was important for us to get to market [with the IPO]--that $486 million was a pretty good change," Boyd said.

Barnesandnoble.com, which has started calling itself the easier-to-type "BN.com," said today that its IPO became the largest ever for an Internet company when the underwriters of the public offering, Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch, exercised their option to sell more shares.

After the IPO, however, Barnesandnoble.com remains significantly intertwined with its parents, Barnes & Noble and Bertelsmann. Each owns 40 percent of Barnesandnoble.com, with the remaining 20 percent owned by public shareholders as a result of the IPO.

The bricks-and-mortar chain, Barnes & Noble, said today it had pocketed $25 million from Bertelsmann because the IPO went out at a higher price than originally anticipated.

That offsets the $5 million charge that Barnes & Noble will take because of its now-terminated deal to acquire Ingram Book Group, announced Wednesday.

Barnes & Noble also is selling 1 million shares in Chapters, Canada's largest bookseller. That deal, slated for mid-June, would raise about $21 million for the U.S. company.

Barnesandnoble.com first filed to go public in September, postponed the IPO in October after Bertelsmann bought 50 percent of the site, then filed again in March.