Len Riggio, chairman of Barnes & Noble, the largest US bookstore chain, is looking to buy a further stake in the company to consolidate his family's holding in the iconic book company.
The Riggio family controls 34% of Barnes & Noble, and have used a poison pill provision that prevents outside investors having a similar stake.
A statement from the company said the board believed its shares were "significantly undervalued".
Riggio, whose brother Stephen is chief executive, said in the statement that he has informed the board that: "in light of its decision to explore strategic alternatives, he intends to consider the possibility of participating in an investor group to acquire the company".
Barnes & Noble's share price has come under considerable pressure in recent years because of competition from online bookstores including Amazon and new technology such as digital books and e-readers. Its share price has fallen by nearly two thirds in the last five years.
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