Barnes & Noble CEO resigns after Nook sales slump

Mon Jul 8, 2013 7:38pm EDT
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By Alistair Barr and Dhanya Skariachan

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Barnes & Noble Inc (BKS.N: Quote) Chief Executive William Lynch resigned on Monday after he led a failed attempt by the U.S. bookstore chain to compete against the likes of Inc, Apple Inc and Google Inc in the e-reader and tablet markets.

Chairman and founder Leonard Riggio, the largest shareholder of Barnes & Noble, said the company is reviewing its strategic plan and announced a series of executive changes.

Chief Financial Officer Michael Huseby was named chief executive of the Nook Media unit and president of the parent company. Max Roberts, CEO of the company's education business, will report to Huseby. Huseby and Mitchell Klipper, CEO of the retail stores, will report to Riggio, Barnes & Noble said.

"As the bookselling industry continues to undergo significant transformation, we believe that Michael, Mitchell and Max are the right executives to lead us into the future," Riggio said in a statement.

Barnes & Noble, operator of the largest chain of bookstores in the United States, has been hit hard by Amazon, which has won market share by selling physical books more cheaply online. Amazon, the world's largest Internet retailer, inflicted more damage when its Kindle e-reader became a hit and e-book sales took off about five years ago.

Borders, another big bookstore chain, went bust in 2011. But Barnes & Noble survived to challenge Amazon in the e-book market. Lynch became CEO about three years ago and led the development of the Nook e-book store, e-readers and tablets.

Initially, the Nook business did well, earning Barnes & Noble about a quarter of the e-book market. However, the unit suffered heavy losses.

In late June, the company reported another quarter of dismal results, led by a 34 percent drop in Nook sales. It also said it would stop making Nook tablets, marking the end of a costly attempt to compete with Amazon (AMZN.O: Quote), Apple (AAPL.O: Quote) and Google (GOOG.O: Quote) in the tablet wars.   Continued...

Customers enter a Barnes and Noble store in New York June 25, 2013. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid