James Daunt

CEO at Barnes & Noble

James Daunt was named Barnes & Noble’s Chief Executive Officer in August 2019. In addition to being CEO of Barnes & Noble, Mr. Daunt also serves as Managing Director of Waterstones, the largest retail bookseller in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Daunt currently oversees 627 Barnes & Noble stores in the United States, and 293 Waterstones locations across the U.K., Ireland, The Netherlands and Belgium.

Mr. Daunt has nearly 30 years of experience in bookselling. In 1990, after an early career as an investment banker, Mr. Daunt opened his own bookstore in London, called Daunt Books. Daunt Books now has nine locations, mainly in London, and remains independently owned by Mr Daunt.

In 2011, Mr. Daunt was appointed Managing Director of Waterstones when the struggling bookseller was bought by Russian businessman, Alexander Mamut. Waterstones was subsequently restored to profitability, a success that led to the acquisition of a majority stake in the business by Elliott Advisors in July 2018. Elliott acquired Barnes & Noble in August 2019.

Besides his successes in bookselling, Mr. Daunt was elected an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2017.

Mr. Daunt is a graduate of Pembroke College at the University of Cambridge, where he studied history. He is married to Katy Steward and has two daughters, Molly and Eliza.


  • CEO

    Current role

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