Barnes & Noble

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Barnes & Noble, Inc.
Traded as NYSEBKS
Predecessor Arthur Hinds & Company
Founded New York City, United States (1917 first bookstore opened)
Founder Charles M. Barnes
William Barnes
G. Clifford Noble
Leonard Riggio[1]
Headquarters 122 5th Ave
Manhattan, New York City
, U.S.
Number of locations
647 retail stores (As of August 1, 2015)
Key people
Leonard Riggio
(Executive Chairman)
Ronald D. Boire
Revenue Decrease US$6,069.50 Million (52 weeks ending 2015-05-02)


Increase US$7.129 Billion (FY 2012)[3]
Increase US$-61.303 Million (FY 2012)[3]
Increase US$-68.687 Million (FY 2012)[3]
Total assets Decrease US$3.22951 billion (2015) [2]
  • Decrease US$3.732536 billion (2013)[4]
  • Increase US$3.774699 billion (2012)[5]
Total equity Decrease US$747 Million (FY 2012)[3]
Website (corporate site) (consumer site) (consumer site)

Barnes & Noble, Inc., is a Fortune 500 company, the largest retail bookseller in the United States, and a leading retailer of content, digital media and educational products in the country. The company operates 647 retail stores (as of August 1, 2015) in all 50 U.S. states.[6]

Barnes & Noble operates mainly through its Barnes & Noble Booksellers chain of bookstores and the company's headquarters are at 122 Fifth Avenue in the Ladies' Mile Historic District in Manhattan in New York City.[7]

After a series of mergers and bankruptcies in the American bookstore industry since the 1990s, Barnes & Noble stands as United States' last remaining national bookstore chain.[8][9] Previously, Barnes and Noble operated the chain of small B. Dalton Booksellers stores in malls until they announced the liquidation of the chain. The company is known for large retail outlets, many of which contain a café serving Starbucks coffee. Most stores sell books, magazines, newspapers, DVDs, graphic novels, gifts, games, music, and Nook e‑readers and tablets.


Clifford Noble in 1893


Barnes & Noble originated in 1886 with a bookstore called Arthur Hinds & Company, located in the Cooper Union Building in New York City.[10][11] In the fall of 1886, Gilbert Clifford Noble, a then-recent Harvard graduate from Westfield, Massachusetts, was hired to work there as a clerk.[12] In 1894, Noble was made a partner, and the name of the shop was changed to Hinds & Noble.[13] In 1901, Hinds & Noble moved to 31–35 W. 15th Street.[14]

In 1917, Noble bought out Hinds and entered into a partnership with William Barnes, son of his old friend Charles; the name of the store was changed accordingly to Barnes & Noble.[15][16] Charles Barnes had opened a book-printing business in Wheaton, Illinois in 1873; William Barnes divested himself of his ownership interest in his father's firm just before his partnership with Noble and it would go on to become Follett Corporation. Although the flagship store once featured the motto "founded in 1873," the C. M. Barnes-Wilcox Company never had any connection to Barnes & Noble other than the fact that both were partly owned (at different times) by William Barnes.


In 1930, Noble sold his share of the company to William Barnes' son John Wilcox Barnes.[17] Noble died on June 6, 1936, at the age of 72.[18] In the long history of the bookstore, the namesake partnership was a brief interlude of thirteen years.

Barnes & Noble's former flagship store at 105 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, New York that operated from 1932-2014.

In 1932, at the height of the Great Depression, the bookstore was moved to a flagship location on 18th Street and Fifth Avenue,[19] which served as such until it closed in 2014. The Noble family retained ownership of an associated publishing business, and Barnes & Noble opened a new publishing division in 1931.[17] In 1940, the store was one of the first businesses to feature Muzak; it underwent a major renovation the following year.[20] That decade the company opened stores in Brooklyn and Chicago.[21] William Barnes died in 1945, at the age of 78 and his son John Wilcox Barnes assumed full control.[21] The company underwent a significant expansion in the 1950s and 1960s, opening an additional retail store on Twenty-third Street in Manhattan and shops near the City University of New York, Harvard and other Northeast college campuses.[22] John Barnes died in 1969 and the company was sold to the conglomerate Amtel.[23]

Barnes and Noble corporate headquarters, 122 (122–124) Fifth Avenue between West 17th and 18th Streets in the Flatiron District neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City
5th Avenue store sign


The business was purchased in 1971, by Leonard Riggio for $1.2 million.[22] By then it had been badly mismanaged over the prior two years and consisted only of "a significantly reduced wholesale operation and a single retail location—the store at 105 Fifth Avenue."[22] In 1974, Barnes & Noble became the first bookstore to advertise on television and a year later, the company became the first bookseller in America to discount books, by selling The New York Times best-selling titles at 40% off the publishers' list price.[24] During the 1970s and 1980s, Barnes & Noble opened smaller discount stores, which were eventually phased out in favor of larger stores. They also began to publish their own books to be sold to mail-order customers. These titles were primarily affordable reissues of out-of-print titles and selling them through mail-order catalogs allowed Barnes & Noble to reach new customers nationwide.[24]

In November 1974, in response to a question from a member of the studio audience, the British twin brothers Norris McWhirter and Ross McWhirter, who were editors of the British-produced Guinness Book of Records, claimed on the BBC One television programme Record Breakers that the Fifth Avenue store of Barnes and Noble had overtaken that of London's Foyles bookshop to become the world's biggest bookstore.[25]


Barnes & Noble continued to expand throughout the 1980s and in 1986, purchased the primarily shopping mall-based B. Dalton chain from Dayton Hudson for an estimated $275 million to $300 million.[26] The last B. Dalton stores were slated to close in January 2010.[27] In 1989, Barnes and Noble had purchased the 22-store chain Bookstop. Solveig Robinson, author of The Book in Society: An Introduction to Print Culture, wrote that the purchase "gave [Barnes and Noble] the necessary know-how and infrastructure to create what, in 1992, became the definitive bookselling superstore."[28] The acquisition of the 797 B. Dalton bookstores turned the company into a nationwide retailer, and by the end of fiscal year 1999, the second-largest online bookseller in the United States.[27] B&N's critics claim that it has contributed to the decline of local and independent booksellers.[29]

Before Barnes & Noble created its web site, it sold books directly to customers through mail-order catalogs. It first began selling books online in the late 1980s, in an early generation venue called Trintex, a joint venture between Sears and IBM, but the company's website was not launched until May 1997.[30] According to the site, it now carries over 2 million titles.[31]

In 2002, Leonard Riggio's brother Stephen Riggio was named CEO, a position he held until 2010.[32] The Barnes & Noble Review, an online literary site, was launched in October 2007. It featured book reviews, columns, and interview from critics and authors such as Michael Dirda, John Freeman, A.C. Grayling, Ezra Klein, Paul LaFarge, Mark Sarvas, Dava Sobel, Neal Stephenson, Stephen King, and Greil Marcus.[33] Music critic Robert Christgau has also written essays for the site.[34]

Video games and related items were sold in the company's GameStop retail outlets from 1999 until late 2004, when the division was spun off by distributed its 59% stake in GameStop to stakeholders of Barnes & Noble, making it an independent company.[35]


In March 2010, William Lynch, formerly the president of the company's website, was appointed CEO. He is credited with helping launch the company's electronic book store and overseeing the introduction of its electronic book reader, the Nook. Many observers saw his appointment as underscoring the importance of digital books to Barnes & Noble's future. Steve Riggio stayed on as vice chairman.[36]

After the bankruptcy and closure of its chief competitor, Borders Group, in 2011,[37] Barnes & Noble became the last remaining national bookstore chain in America.[8][9] This followed a series of mergers and bankruptcies in the American bookstore industry since the 1990s, which also saw the demise of Waldenbooks, Barnes & Noble's own subsidiary B. Dalton and Crown Books, among others. Barnes & Noble's largest physical bookstore rival is now Books-A-Million, which does not operate in the Western US. Barnes & Noble also faces competition from general retailers, especially from, and from regional and independent booksellers.

On October 23, 2012, the New York Times reported that credit card information was stolen in 63 stores.[38]

On July 8, 2013, the company announced the resignation of William Lynch as Barnes & Noble CEO and board member, effective immediately. No immediate replacement was named.[39]

On January 6, 2014, Barnes & Noble closed its original flagship store at 105 Fifth Avenue.[40] On January 8, 2014, it was announced that Michael P. Huseby would become the new CEO of Barnes & Noble. Huseby had joined Barnes & Noble as Chief Financial Officer in March 2012, and led the company's financial organization until his appointment as President in July 2013. Prior to joining Barnes & Noble, he worked in the media communications industry, most recently having served as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Cablevision Systems Corporation.[41]

On June 25, 2014, it was announced that Barnes & Noble planned to spin off the Nook Media division into an independent, publicly traded company.[42] In the summer of 2014, Barnes & Noble partnered with Google Shopping Express in some U.S. cities to offer same-day delivery for books and other products. In 2014, it also teamed up with Samsung (which manufactures B&N's Nook tablet devices) and also launched a print-on-demand service for aspiring authors.[43]

On August 3, 2015, Barnes & Noble College and Yuzu were spun off into the independent, publicly traded company Barnes & Noble Education.[44]


Barnes & Noble publishes some of the books it sells, inexpensively reprinting non-copyrighted titles or acquiring the U.S. or English language rights from another publisher. In addition, Barnes & Noble commissions reprint anthologies and omnibus editions using in-house editors.[citation needed]

One of these titles, The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense by Suzette Haden Elgin, has sold over 250,000 copies.[30] The reissued edition of The Columbia History of the World by John Garrity, for example has sold over 1 million copies.[30]

Since then, the company has expanded its publishing operation. This expansion was aided by the company's acquisition of SparkNotes, an educational website and publishing company. Further expansions of the company's publishing business include the purchase of how-to publisher Sterling Publishing in 2003.[30]

From around 1992 through early 2003, Barnes & Noble released a series of literary classics for adults and children under the imprint Barnes & Noble Classics. Originally available only in hardcover, most titles came in a black or cream-colored dustjacket edition. In 2003, Barnes & Noble revamped and expanded its line of literature classics, releasing books in hardcover, trade paperback and mass-market editions.[citation needed]

In addition, Barnes & Noble has a second paperback series called the Barnes & Noble Library of Essential Reading.[45]

The Barnes & Noble café in Springfield, New Jersey


The first store to feature a café serving Starbucks beverages was in Springfield, New Jersey, in 1993. Since then, most stores have been amended or constructed specifically to feature a café serving Starbucks beverages, Harney & Sons or Tazo Tea, FIJI Bottled Water, bakery goods from The Cheesecake Factory, candy from Godiva Chocolatiers, sandwiches and other specialty products. Although the cafés are owned and operated by Barnes & Noble, servers follow Starbucks' standards in beverage preparation.[citation needed] The Barnes & Noble membership card is accepted to receive a discount on any café related goods.[46] Starbucks gift cards are not accepted at Barnes & Noble cafés.

In 2004, Barnes & Noble began offering Wi-Fi in the café area of selected stores, using SBC FreedomLink (now the AT&T Wi-Fi network). All stores currently offer Wi-Fi, an effort which was completed in 2006. Since July 27, 2009, Wi-Fi is offered for free to all customers.[47]

The Barnes & Noble at The Grove at Farmers Market, Los Angeles.
Barnes & Noble in Lynnwood, Washington, using the former 1990s logo sign.

Community involvement

Barnes & Noble hires community business development managers to engage in community outreach. These managers' responsibilities include organizing in-store events, such as author appearances, children's storytimes and book groups. Community business development managers also work closely with local schools and groups to promote literacy and the arts. For example, Barnes & Noble sponsors a children's summer reading program that promotes literacy and puts over 2 million books into the hands of the children each year.[48] Barnes & Noble also hosts bookfairs, which raise funds for schools and libraries and an annual holiday book drive to collect books for disadvantaged children. Barnes & Noble stores collected and donated nearly 1.5 million books to more than 650 local charities across the country that provide services to disadvantaged children during the 2014 Holiday Book Drive.[49] To promote nationwide literacy among 1st to 6th graders and encourage more reading during the summer, Barnes & Noble has implemented a summer challenge: if children read eight books and write about their reading, Barnes & Noble will give the reader a free book.[50]

Barnes & Noble Nook

Barnes & Noble Nook is a suite of electronic book readers developed by the company,[51] based on the Android platform. The first device was announced in the United States on October 20, 2009, and was released November 30, 2009, for $259.[52] On June 21, 2010, Barnes & Noble reduced the Nook's price to $199, as well as launched a new Wi-Fi-only model, for $149 and released a Nook colored touch screen for $249.[53]

The Nook competes with the Amazon Kindle, Kobo eReader and other e-readers, and color tablets used sometimes as readers like Apple's iBooks for the iPhone. Various Nook models feature a 6-inch or 7-inch touchscreen.[54] Version 1.3 of the Nook introduced Wi-Fi connectivity, a web browser, a dictionary, chess and sudoku games and a separate, smaller color touchscreen that serves as the primary input device. The Nook also features a Read in Store capability that allows visitors to stream and read any book for up to one hour while shopping in a Barnes & Noble Store. According to a June 2010 CNet article, the company plans to expand this feature to include periodicals in the near future.[55] The color version of the Nook introduced a 7-inch color touchscreen and the ability to view at a portrait or landscape orientation.[56]

On April 30, 2012, Microsoft invested $300 million for a 17.6% stake in Nook, which valued the business at about $1.7 billion.[57]

In November 2012, the technology publications Techdirt and Mashable criticized the license agreement with which Barnes & Noble sells ebooks to consumers, pointing out that the rights to re-download a purchased ebook expire when the customer's credit card expires, and a valid credit card must be added to the account to restore this functionality.[58][59]

In June 2014, the company announced a partnership with Samsung Electronics to make Nook tablets, as the bookseller moves forward with plans to revamp its digital business.[60] Samsung and Barnes & Noble introduced the Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook 7.0 in August 2014, followed by the Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook 10.1 in October 2014. In September 2015, Samsung and Barnes & Noble introduced the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 NOOK.

Barnes & Noble previously announced that it would spin off its Nook Digital division into a separate publicly traded company,[61] but Nook remains a part of Barnes & Noble. In December 2014, Barnes & Noble announced that it has ended its Nook partnership with Microsoft by buying back its stake.[62]

College bookstores

In August 2015, Barnes & Noble announced the completion of the separation of its Retail and College businesses. Barnes & Noble Education, Inc. is now an independent public company and the parent of Barnes & Noble College, trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol, "BNED." Barnes & Noble College Booksellers was previously owned by company chairman Leonard Riggio. College Booksellers also operated the self-proclaimed "world's largest bookstore" on Fifth Avenue and 18th Street in New York City from 1932 to 2014. This flagship store carried a large variety of textbooks, medical and legal books and medical supplies in addition to the various trade titles carried at the company's main stores.[63]

See also


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  6. "For Investors" at Retrieved September 11, 2015.
  7. "National Sponsorships and Donations." Barnes & Noble. Retrieved on January 29, 2010
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  9. 9.0 9.1 Townsend, Matt (July 10, 2013). "Bookstores Not Dead Yet as Riggio Bets on Barnes & Noble". Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved October 30, 2013. the last national bookstore chain<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Barnes & Noble to Move." The Bookseller and Stationer, January 1. 1922 p. 13
  11. The Noble Legacy: The Story of Gilbert Clifford Noble, Cofounder of the Barnes & Noble and Noble & Noble Book Companies by Betty N. Turner. iUniverse: 2006 ISBN 0595374786, 9780595374786 page 71
  12. The Noble Legacy: The Story of Gilbert Clifford Noble, Cofounder of the Barnes & Noble and Noble & Noble Book Companies by Betty N. Turner. iUniverse: 2006 ISBN 0595374786, 9780595374786 page 65
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  25. Record Breakers. Presented by Roy Castle. Co-presented by Norris and Ross McWhirter. BBC 1. Broadcast on Tuesday November 19, 1974.
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Further reading

External links