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Blame the Nook? Barnes & Noble chief executive resigns

William Lynch
William Lynch resigned Monday as chief executive of Barnes & Noble.
(Victor J. Blue / Bloomberg)

William Lynch, the chief executive of Barnes & Noble, resigned Monday. The news was announced late in the day Eastern time, effective immediately. Lynch had been CEO since 2010.

Should we blame the Nook? Barnes & Noble’s efforts to battle the Amazon Kindle e-reader never really took hold. Despite promising reviews and a brief period of capturing larger market share, the Nook had recently become a poor performer.

The bookseller recently reported a net loss of $154.8 million for 2013, more than double the loss of $65.6 million from the prior year. Revenues, of $6.8 billion, were down 4%. The Nook e-reader was blamed for much of the decline -- the Nook unit, which includes e-books, saw sales shrink by 26% during the holiday season, bringing in $100 million less than it had the year before.

Late last month, Barnes & Noble announced that it would stop manufacturing the Nook in-house.

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In summer 2012 filings, it was revealed that Lynch’s compensation jumped to $10 million from $1.6 million. On July 24, 2012, the Associated Press reported, “Barnes & Noble says that in the interest of ‘aligning pay to business objectives and long-term strategy,’ it will seek approval of a new incentive plan that will allow a grant of 500,000 more options to Lynch by stockholders at its annual meeting on Sept. 11. That would boost Lynch’s total compensation to about $15.3 million.”

The long-term strategy, in this case, lasted about 349 days.

With Lynch gone, Chief Financial Officer Michael P. Huseby will become president of Barnes & Noble and chief executive of Nook Media, its subsidiary.

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