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Liberty Media proposed a deal late Thursday to buy the largest U.S. book retailer Barnes & Noble for $1.02 billion through the purchase of the company’s stock at $17 per share, according to Reuters.

The offer may seem high for an ailing fleet of retail stores that are seeing declines in print book sales, but Barnes & Noble’s Nook tablet and online marketplace could be very valuable to the right buyer.

Barnes & Noble announced it was putting itself up for sale in August 2010 and has since pushed an online commerce strategy to boost sales through its Nook eReader.

Recently, Barnes & Noble rolled out a software update to its Nook Color that transformed it from an ereader to a full-fledged tablet computer with apps and support for flash (web videos). Not only does this make the Nook one of the least expensive tablets ($250) running the Android operating system, but it also enables all of Barnes & Noble’s 720 retail stores the potential to become interactive with the online marketplace.

And it’s that interactive potential between physical stores and online Liberty Media would probably like to extend to the corporation’s subsidiaries, which have a presence in media, communication, video, entertainment and online commerce.

The acquisition will go through Liberty Media’s Interactive group, which owns television shopping network QVC and has major stakes in Expedia, Gifts.com, Lockerz, and many others. The acquisition proposal itself has yet to be evaluated by Barnes & Noble’s special committee, according to the company.

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