NEW YORK Feb 24 Barnes & Noble Inc
Chairman Leonard Riggio is considering a bid for the company's
bookstore business, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday,
citing people familiar with the situation.
Riggio is the company's largest shareholder with a nearly 30
percent stake. He pioneered the book superstore format in the
1980s and 1990s.
According to the Journal, Riggio would take the company's
689 retail stores private, splitting that business from its Nook
e-reader and tablet business and its college store chain.
Riggio's interest so far has been tentative, the report
said. One person told the Journal that Riggio would make his
interest formal this week and publicly disclose it.
A Barnes & Noble spokeswoman declined to comment on the
report. She said Riggio also had no comment.
Barnes & Noble's retail business has struggled in recent
years as more book buyers have switched to digital formats.
The company saw a short-lived rise in sales after the
September 2011 liquidation of rival Borders Group.
But Barnes & Noble reported poor holiday sales at all its
divisions in 2012. The company posted a 10.9 percent decrease in
sales at its bookstores and on its website over the year-end
The bookseller said in January last year that it might spin
off its digital and e-reader business. It created a separate
unit for its Nook and college bookstore chains called Nook
Media. That unit has drawn investments from Microsoft Corp
and British education and media publisher Pearson Plc
The Nook, launched in 2009 to compete with Amazon.com Inc's
market-leading Kindle, has been the cornerstone of
Barnes & Noble's strategy to counter the shift by many readers
to digital books.
The company has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into
the unit, but questions about its value have swirled after the
disappointing holiday season.
Earlier this month, Barnes & Noble said its 2013 loss for
Nook would be deeper than expected and sales at the unit would
fall short of the $3 billion the company had forecast.