It was a testy custody battle, but Barnes & Noble (NYSE:BKS) now officially owns the online bookstore that bears its name. After scooping up the stake from partner Bertelsmann AG at $2.80 a share and then having to sweeten the pot to $3.05 for individual investors, the book retailer can now officially bury one of the few remaining penny-stock remnants of the dot-com revolution after closing on the acquisition last night.

Yes, most Internet stocks have either thrived toward gaining legitimacy or disappeared. Barnes & Noble's online appendage lingered for nepotistic reasons, but it never became a viable stand-alone trading entity.

You can wax nostalgic to the beat of the Web company's 1999 IPO. Bertelsmann had invested $200 million a year earlier. When the stock was ultimately priced at $18, it came with the cocky nudge and wink that most Internet companies hurried to the trading floor make. It was the swagger of a stock priced in the teens but destined to shoot higher.

The stock did shoot higher. It rose 27% in its first day of trading. However, it was all downhill from there.

Just because you ran a successful chain of bricks-and-mortar bookstores didn't mean that an online storefront would be a layup. If anything, it's often a liability. Rival Borders (NYSE:BGP) found out the hard way, eventually teaming up with Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) when the losses mounted.

No, Amazon wasn't profitable then either, but at least it had fulfillment down to a science. The company that would eventually earn a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation knew what it was doing, and that eventually allowed it to partner with other offline retailers like Target (NYSE:TGT) and Toys "R" Us (NYSE:TOY)

Last month, the company projected that would lose about $25 million this year, with sales clocking in between $435 million and $475 million. While that's a wide range, on the low end it would mean very little growth from last year's $425 million top-line showing. Even as online usage has continued to grow with Amazon's business booming, had seen just a 0.5% gain in net sales last year.

So is Barnes & Noble simply buying its way out of a publicly-traded embarrassment, or does the fact that has been successful at trimming its losses in recent years make it a sound investment in the company's future? Both, actually.

In a recession-tested sector, there may be two sides to this story, but put them together and the company feels surprisingly whole.

What are words for when no one listens anymore? Do you appreciate the written language or is it a waste of scripted time? Crack open a dictionary lately? All this and more -- in the Words, Words, Words discussion board. Only on

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz loves to read almost as much as he loves to write. He does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story.