Have books finally hit a bottom?!? One hedge fund looking at the inspiration behind "You've Got Mail" corporate monolith Fox Books may be looking to acquire it, according to reports, and traffic and headcount data both suggest the investor is on to something. 

Barnes and Noble ($BKS) shares are still down 15% this year, falling from $7.11 as of January to $6 as of mid-day. That drop also factors in a 30% bump Thursday, which came following a Financial Times' report about Elliott Management closing in on a deal to buy out the beleaguered bookseller and take it off the public market. Here's what Elliott Management probably found so enticing about the company other than its synergies with Waterstones, the British bookseller that it acquired last year. 

Foot Traffic Now Rising

There was a time when the "Amazon defeats Barnes and Noble" narrative was plain as day — and to be certain, long-term investors in the company have taken it on the chin.

But now, Barnes and Noble foot traffic is rising steadily, according to Facebook ($FB) Were Here Count, which measures social media engagement at a given location or number of locations.

Headcount Grows

Barnes and Noble also appears to be growing headcount, judging by its LinkedIn ($MSFT) staffers' profiles. Since February 2, 2017, the number of LinkedIn profiles that claim to work for the retailer is consistantly growing,.

Because Barnes and Noble is still shuttering stores — and will do so through 2022 — perhaps these small green shoots for the retailer are signs that Elliott Management has picked a good time to look for a rebound. After all: it has been more than a decade, and an 80% slide for investors, since Barnes and Noble peaked on public markets.

Whether or not the deal goes through, these two metrics are signs of positivity for a retailer that was outfoxed at its own game of rewriting the bookstore industry.

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