Michael Friedman stepped down last week as publisher and general manager of the Barnes & Noble publishing division. Friedman had been directing B&N's publishing efforts since August 1999, when the bookstore chain acquired his publishing and packaging company, J.B. Fairfax International. Friedman said he decided to leave B&N to pursue entrepreneurial ventures; he plans to establish a new publishing and consulting business. Friedman said he feels "very gratified" by what the B&N publishing division has accomplished over the last three and a half years in raising the standard of what a retail proprietary publishing program can produce.

The acquisition of Fairfax in August 1999 was one of B&N's first major steps to upgrade its publishing business. The company has since added Spark Notes and Sterling Publishing: all three fall under the purview of Alan Kahn, president of the Barnes & Noble Publishing Group, to whom Friedman reported. A B&N spokesperson said there are no plans to replace Friedman.