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Leonard Riggio

Leonard Riggio spent his career “building Barnes & Noble into the biggest name in book chains,” said Michael J. de la Merced in The New York Times. Now, the company’s 72-year-old founder and chairman is hoping to save the beleaguered bookseller by taking it private. “The move would effectively cleave the retail arm, which established itself over four decades as the industry’s giant, from Nook Media, the e-book division that investors and analysts had believed would usher the retailer into the Internet era.” The Nook’s original popularity has faded under stiff competition from Amazon’s Kindle and the iPad.

Riggio “is a retailer at heart,” said Roger Yu in USA Today. He launched his bookselling career in the 1960s as a clerk at the New York University bookstore. In the 1970s, he bought the flagship Barnes & Noble bookstore in Manhattan and soon “ushered in the era of big-box bookstores that drove a lot of mom-and-pop booksellers out of business.” Analysts said Riggio might offer anywhere from $485 million to $1 billion for the company’s retail operations, which include BarnesandNoble.com and 689 brick-and-mortar stores, of which the company plans to close up to 20 per year over the next decade. Barnes & Noble’s stock soared on news of Riggio’s buyout plan.

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