Stephen Riggio: Barnes & Noble's Brother Act

Len Riggio has become famous for making Barnes & Noble the biggest name in book retailing. But the chairman's younger brother, Stephen, is putting together the deals to defend B&N against the online onslaught led by Amazon. com. On Dec. 7, the Barnes & Noble vice-chairman engineered a deal with Microsoft for Barnes & Noble to become the exclusive bookseller on its Microsoft Network.

Riggio, 44, says he has been negotiating with Microsoft since barnesandnoble.com was launched in 1997. The MSN site attracts 25 million visitors each month--"a ton of traffic," he says.

Riggio's other online deals include selling a half-interest in barnesandnoble. com for $200 million to Bertelsmann in October. Next up: a plan to sell 20% of barnesandnoble.com to the public. And B&N has hired AOL executive Jonathan Bulkeley to run the site, with Riggio overseeing E-commerce strategy and acquisitions. Do the moves daunt Amazon.com, almost 10 times barnesandnoble. com's size? A spokeswoman says there's room for all in cyberspace.

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