Leonard Riggio

Leonard Riggio is an American businessperson and Entrepreneur. He is the largest share holder of the book store chain Barnes & Noble, which was the largest specialty retailer in the world. As of January 31 2004, the company operated 840 stores in 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.



Riggio grew up in New York City. He attended Brooklyn Technical High School, graduating in 1958, followed by New York University. While at NYU, Riggio founded the Student Book Exchange in 1965 and turned this small book store into a leading retailer. He acquired the venerable Barnes & Noble bookstore in New York in 1971 and adopted its name for his expanding company. Through the years, he acquired hundreds of bookstores and launched the Barnes & Noble superstore concept with an in-store coffee shop and spacious reading alcoves. In addition, Riggio launched to compete with Amazon for on-line book sales and launched a successful video game retail operation including GameStop, Babbages Etc. and Funcoland. By the end of the twentieth century, Riggio had built Barnes & Noble into the largest book seller in the world. Since 1985, Mr. Riggio has been Chairman of the Board and "a principal beneficial owner of MBS Textbook Exchange, Inc." based in Columbia, Missouri, one of the nation's largest wholesalers of college textbook.


Over time he expanded the business, and eventually spun Barnes & Noble out of that college bookstore chain.


Leonard Riggio's awards include the Americanism Award from the Anti-Defamation in November of 2000. This award is the ADL's highest honor.


Leonard Riggio is the benefactor of many community organizations and charities including New York University and the Dia Beacon art museum in Beacon, New York. He also established Project Home Again to assist residents of New Orleans, Louisiana, who were affected by Hurricane Katrina. Project Home Again will spend $20 million from the Riggio Foundation to build 20 new homes in the Gentilly neighborhood of New Orleans.


"My basic message is chart your own course, do your own thing, go after it... The problem is, to get into most top-line universities, most young people have to come from parents that are doing well. Now the expectation is, when they come out of college they'll also be doing well. There's 'Mom, Dad, guess what, I want to write music,' the parents say, 'Aghhh, this guy is all screwed up'".



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