Business, Economics and Jobs

Barnes & Noble founder wants to buy company back

A Barnes & Noble store in the Brooklyn borough of New York.


Spencer Platt

The man who started the book chain Barnes & Noble 40 years ago is prepared to make a bid to buy it's retail business back.

Leonard Riggio announced to the company’s board that he would make an offer for Barnes & Noble Booksellers, and other retail assets, reports the New York Times.

Riggio, 71, is currently the company's largest shareholder and owns nearly 30 percent of the company.

The bid is the boldest plan yet to save the struggling book retailer. Barnes & Noble has been on the losing end of a battle from online retailers like Amazon and the increasing popularity of e-readers like the Kindle.

The company has its own e-book division, Nook Media, that will not be a part of Riggio's bid. The company spun off its its digital and e-reader business that also included its college bookstore chains in October.

The nation's largest book chain recently warned that it expected weak earnings in the most recent quarter, particularly in the Nook Media division where revenue will fall far below the $3 billion it projected, reports the New York Times.

Barnes & Noble suffered a 10.9 percent drop in sales in both its retail stores and online divisions in the usually-profitable holiday season, reports Reuters.

"He knows the book business like the back of his hand," David Strasser, an analyst with Janney Montgomery Scott LLC in New York, told Bloomberg.

Barnes & Noble "could be a private company with cash flows," he added. "Turns out lots of people like books still. Nook is tougher and needs funding. E-readers have also hit a kind of wall at current penetration."

A filing out Monday with the US Securities and Exchange Commission said that the buyout would be funded mainly with cash. The price for the retail business would have to be negotiated with company's board.

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