In a surprise move, Barnes & Noble named William Lynch, president of the company’s Web division, as chief executive, replacing Steve Riggio, who will remain as vice chairman.
Some industry analysts were surprised that Mr. Lynch had been promoted so soon. It is “the corporate succession equivalent of moving in with someone a week after the first date,” said Michael Norris, senior analyst at Simba Information, which provides research and advice to publishers.
In a statement, Len Riggio said: “Given the dynamic nature of the book industry, William is uniquely qualified to lead the company’s transition to multichannel distribution and drive the continuing expansion of our e-commerce platform, eBooks and other digital content and products.”
When you look at the book market, physical books will continue to be the dominant format that consumers buy — they value having the object,” Lynch told Reuters in an interview, though he said that attachment was weaker for the mass market paperbacks segment.
The company, which has 723 general retail bookstores and operates 639 outlets through its college bookstore subsidiary, is unlikely to open new locations. Mr. Riggio said that in the next two years, “the net number of stores will not change much.” After that, he said, “we will have to see.”
This is a bold move for B&N as Lynch is the first person outside of the Riggio family to be named CEO since Len Riggio bought B&N in 1971. I am glad Lynch acknowledges that print is still the dominant form. While e-book sales are increasing exponetially print books still remain the lion’s share of a publisher’s’sales.