Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue

03/19/2010

Barnes and Noble Ushers In New CEO



More intrigue and drama in the publishing world. Changes are a-going-on! Crain’s New York Business reports the following bit of drama:

New CEO William Lynch, who was promoted from president, helped launch the company’s electronic book store and oversaw the introduction of its electronic book reader, the Nook.

Bookseller Barnes & Noble announced a chief executive switch Thursday, elevating the president of its Web site to lead the company and replace Steve Riggio.

The company said Thursday that Mr. Riggio will be actively involved with the company and will stay on as vice chairman.

New CEO William Lynch helped launch the company’s electronic book store and oversaw the introduction of its electronic book reader, the Nook. It is crucial technology that the company is counting on to boost sales and ward off intense competition from online retailers and from rival e-readers like the Kindle and now the iPad.

Mr. Lynch, 39, has served as president of Barnes & Noble’s Web site since February 2009.

Barnes & Noble is under pressure from shareholders as sales at its stores flag. Los Angeles billionaire Ron Burkle has blamed company management.

In February Barnes & Noble blocked an attempt by Mr. Burkle, whose Yucaipa Cos. holds a 19% stake in the company, to amass more shares.

“William came to us as a skillful leader in e-commerce who, in a short period of time, has done a superb job in quickly establishing Barnes & Noble as a major player in e-commerce and digital content,” Chairman Leonard Riggio said in printed statement. “Given the dynamic nature of the book industry, William is uniquely qualified to lead the company’s transition to multi-channel distribution and drive the continuing expansion of our e-commerce platform, eBooks and other digital content and products.”

Steve Riggio is the brother of Leonard Riggio, who is the company’s biggest shareholder.

The company also promoted Chief Operating Officer Mitchell Klipper, 52, to CEO of its retail group.

Last month Barnes & Noble, based in New York said the launch of the Nook helped spur online sales, but weakness at its bookstores led to a drop in profit during the fourth quarter.

Its outlook for the beginning of this year left many investors disappointed.

In premarket trading, Barnes & Noble shares edged up 12 cents to $22.45.

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