The Herald Bulletin

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February 25, 2013

Barnes & Noble chair wants to buy retail business

(Continued)

NEW YORK —

Technically, Riggio, who is chairman of the chain, didn't found the original Barnes & Noble store in New York when it opened in 1917. But he bought the store and brand name in the 1970s. Under his leadership, Barnes & Noble became a one of the pioneers of the "big box" format in which national chains would set up large stores that offer a wide selection of merchandise under one roof.

The company also pioneered bookselling in general. In 1975 it began offering 40 percent off New York Times best sellers, which was then unheard of in the bookselling business.

Throughout the 1980s, the company expanded through acquisitions. It bought B Dalton Bookseller in 1987 and BookStop in 1989. Then it went public in 1993 and established its Web site in 1997.

But the company was hurt by Internet retailers like Amazon.com and discounters such as Wal-Mart and Costco expanding their book selections. Barnes & Noble has been proactive, investing heavily in its Nook e-book readers and a digital library. It struck a deal with Microsoft last April to create a Nook subsidiary. But the Nook faces competition from other devices like Apple's iPad Mini, Amazon's Kindle and Google's Nexus tablet.

And the unit is far from profitable. Earlier this month, the company said it expects Nook media revenue of less than $3 billion in fiscal 2013. It also anticipates a loss for the unit before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization to exceed the $262 million loss recorded in its 2012 fiscal year.

This follows a report from the retailer in January that its Nook unit revenue fell 12.6 percent to $311 million during the critical holiday period. Overall sales during the holiday period fell 10.9 percent at bookstores and online compared with a year ago. Barnes & Noble is scheduled to report third-quarter results Thursday.

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