By the 1970s, Mr. Riggio’s thriving business, which included six other college bookstores, acquired the flagship Barnes & Noble trade name and flagship bookstore in Manhattan, which had fallen into decline. Within a few years, Mr. Riggio transformed the Fifth Avenue store into "The World’s Largest Bookstore," with 150,000 textbook and trade titles. Mr. Riggio’s commitment to students continues today through Barnes & Noble College Booksellers, which operates more than 600 college bookstores on college and university campuses in 50 states, serving over 4.6 million students and more than 250,000 faculty.. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, the company made a number of groundbreaking moves. In 1974, Barnes & Noble was the first bookseller in America to advertise on television. Aired in the New York market, the Barnes & Noble “Of Course! Of Course!” commercials won awards and were so memorable that customers still recall them.
In 1975, the company took a bold and audacious step by becoming the first bookseller in America to discount books by offering New York Times bestsellers at 40% off publishers’ list prices. Barnes & Noble expanded on that idea by opening a 40,000-square-foot Sale Annex directly across from its flagship store. The company began to expand in the New York/Boston markets by opening smaller discount bookstores. In addition, it acquired two local chains, BookMasters and Marboro Books, which were converted to Barnes & Noble discount stores. Initially, these stores were very successful and expanded to 50 locations. They were eventually phased out in favor of the company’s larger-format book superstores.
The acquisition of Marboro Books gave Barnes & Noble a foothold in the growing mail-order business, which served as a platform to reach customers nationwide. This business served as a laboratory that revealed undercurrents of demand, prompting Barnes & Noble to begin publishing its own books for sale to its growing mail-order customer base. These titles were primarily out-of-print books that were reissued in high quality,