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The Wall Street Journal has a story about how Barnes & Noble is about to begin looking for a new CEO - who will be its sixth since 2013. The last, Demos Parneros, “was terminated without severance in July for violating company policies,” though the company said it was unrelated to issues of financial reporting.

As it happens, the company’s lack of strong leadership - or even a coherent and well-communicated strategic direction - isn’t just a problem for Barnes & Noble. It also is of significant concern to book publishers, who “have a strong interest in Barnes & Noble running a healthy and stable business, to counteract the clout of Amazon.com Inc. in book retailing.”

Company chairman Leonard Riggio - who also happens to be Barnes & Noble’s biggest shareholder - has told publishers that there is a plan to turn things around, though he has not explained it to them, the story says. One possibility seems to be smaller stores, but beyond that plans are, to say the least, vague.

The Journal writes that “the need for a solid turnaround plan is acute. For the full fiscal year ended April 28, total sales fell 6% to $3.7 billion, while same-store sales, a key economic indicator, decreased 5.4%. The market value of Barnes & Noble has fallen dramatically to $440 million on Thursday from $1.33 billion on Aug. 10, 2015.”

The need for a solid turnaround plan is acute. For the full fiscal year ended April 28, total sales fell 6% to $3.7 billion, while same-store sales, a key economic indicator, decreased 5.4%. The market value of Barnes & Noble has fallen dramatically to $440 million on Thursday from $1.33 billion on Aug. 10, 2015.
KC's View:
“Acute” would seem to be an understatement.

There also was a piece in the New York Times about Barnes & Noble’s travails, quoting a Harvard Business School professor as saying that independent bookstores “decided that rather than trying to compete on price and inventory, we’re going to provide our customers with a curated experience that’s hypersensitive to the customers in that community … Barnes & Noble has struggled to figure out where they fit in the larger ecosystem, given that that continuum continues to spread further and further apart.”

That strikes me as pretty accurate. I don’t think Barnes & Noble has much of a clue where it fits in any ecosystem at the moment.