Barnes & Noble: Riggio Writes Letter to Shareholders - Transformation

by Geoff Gannon

Len Riggio, Chairman of Barnes & Noble (BKS), sent a letter to shareholders as part of his campaign for the September 28th board election against Ron Burkle.

Riggio starts personally:”For myself and the good people of Barnes & Noble it is a fight we did not ask for, and do not deserve. Self-pity is a bad message. Maybe Riggio wrote that line for employees. They feel it. And they can vote. More likely, he wrote it for himself.  It’s an honest emotion. But it doesn’t belong in the letter.

Most of Riggio’s letter slings stale mud. The only paragraph shareholders care about is this 138 word pitch:

As you well know, the book industry – as well as all industries that deal with printed matter – is undergoing a rapid transformation. Rather than trying to stem the inevitable march of technology, we view this development as an enormous opportunity for Barnes & Noble; first to continue to gain our share as the world’s largest retail booksellers, second to use our storefronts to sell digital devices, and finally to profit greatly from our growing digital business. In fact, in the eleven months since we launched our e-Reading platform, we have already attained a 20% share of the digital marketplace for books. This compared to our 18% share of the physical book space. And we’re just getting started. Speaking for myself, I’ve never been more excited about our prospects since the first day we opened our doors in 1965.

Read Riggio’s Letter