James Daunt is Chief Executive Officer of Barnes & Noble, the world’s largest retail bookseller, and of Waterstones, the largest retail bookseller in the United Kingdom. Mr. Daunt currently oversees approximately 600 Barnes & Noble stores in the United States, and 293 Waterstones locations across the U.K., Ireland, The Netherlands and Belgium.
Mr. Daunt has over 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 (unimaginatively) 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 and appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2022 Queen's Birthday Honours, for services to the publishing industry.
Mr. Daunt is a graduate of Pembroke College at the University of Cambridge, where he studied history. He is married and has two daughters.