Len Riggio

Riggio is chairman of Barnes & Noble, the largest bookseller in the US with more than 800 retail locations.

The son of a cabbie turned prizefighter (who twice defeated Rocky Graziano), Little Italy-born Riggio dropped out of college and took a job at the NYU bookstore in the early 60s. In 1965, at the age of 24, he took out a $5,000 loan to open his own college bookstore, the Waverly Book Exchange. He soon expanded to 10 locations, and in 1971 used the profits to acquire the venerable-but faltering-Barnes & Noble, which was then just a single store on lower Fifth Avenue. He bestowed the B&N name on his other shops and continued his expansion, focusing on the academic market in the 1970s before broadening the company's scope with the purchase of the B. Dalton chain in 1986 for $300 million.

Riggio introduced the "superstore" concept in the 1990s-monster-sized venues with cafes, couches, children's play areas, and wide aisles, all of which encouraged shoppers to browse, linger, and buy. And then came the internet. B&N launched barnesandnoble.com in 1997, but the site never managed to match the sales or popularity of Amazon.com, which had launched two years prior. In 2002, Riggio stepped down as CEO and turned the job over to his younger brother, Stephen Riggio. He remains B&N's chairman.

Riggio and his second wife, Louise, live on Park Avenue. He has three children and three grandchildren and spends weekends and summers in Bridgehampton. [Image via AP]