Barnes & Noble is Dead, And Len Riggio Killed it
What you won’t hear them say is that the current trend toward digital is going to make B&N obsolete as a bookseller (instead, they’ll assume static system), or that the current mismanagement renders any discussion of B&N’s future moot.
The Book People at Publishers Weekly, for example, continue to ignore the writing on the wall, instead reporting:
During its annual meeting held Tuesday morning at its flagship store in New York City, Barnes & Noble chairman Len Riggio supported its new CEO, Demos Parneros who was named to his current role in April.
During the meeting, Riggio called Parneros "the perfect fit" to help the company grow its top line and improve profits. Observing that Parneros "has brought lots of energy to the company," Riggio said he is looking forward to watching the executive over the next few years, noting that Parneros shares his vision and will revive B&N "store by store."
The thing about Parneros is that in his first quarter at the head of B&N, revenues fell by 6.6%. That is not entirely his fault, but his plans for turning around Barnes & Noble amounted to six paragraphs of buzzword bingo. This does not inspire confidence in the man, and that should make you wonder why Riggio is so certain about Parneros ability to help B&N rise from the ashes.
Riggio chose, and then fired, the last two Barnes & Noble CEOs, and when that post was vacant he twice held the position of CEO. The company lost money under his leadership, and it also lost value – the stock price dropped from over $17 a share (when Riggio sold stock in 2014) to $7.30 a share today.
And yet in spite of the declining value, B&N continues to pay out a dividend of fifteen cents a share each quarter. As the Motley Fool notes, B&N is using a lot of its profit to pay that dividend – this, at a time when revenues continue to fall.
That is not a pattern to inspire confidence in B&N’s future. No, what it looks like is the senior management is buying off the major investors, a group that not so coincidentally includes Len Riggio.
Riggio is running B&N into the ground, and he is paying himself a bonus while he does it.
image by MikeKalasnik