December 14, 2010, 5:09 PM

Barnes & Noble’s second quarter web sales soar

Thanksgiving weekend web sales jumped 105.7%.

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Barnes & Noble Inc. rode a wave of core product and digital content sales online in the second quarter, the company says in its recently released earnings report filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

For the fiscal 2011 second quarter ended Oct. 30, Barnes & Noble reported:

  • Web sales of $176.7 million, a 46.7% increase from $120.5 million in the prior year period.
  • Total retail sales were $930.8 million, a decrease of about 4.6% from $975.2 million.
  • College segment sales were $798 million, compared with $65.2 million in the prior year. Data for 2010 Q2 includes only sales after Sept. 30, 2009, when Barnes & Noble acquired the business.
  • Barnes & Noble comparable-store sales decreased by 3.3% and College’s comparable store sales decreased by 1.5%. 
  • Net loss was $12.6 million, compared with a net loss of $24.0 million in the prior year period.

Internet Retailer calculates the web represented 19% of sales for Q2, compared with 12.4% in the prior year period.

The web sales momentum continued during the three-day post-Thanksgiving weekend—the company reported web sales increased by 105.7% and comparable-store sales were up by 17.2%. Barnes & Noble did not break out the dollar amounts for three-day period.

At the end of the second quarter, Barnes & Noble, No. 42 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, launched Nookcolor, which the company promotes as the first e-reader that enables customers to purchase interactive digital content on a color touchscreen. Since going on sale Nov. 16, the Nookcolor has become the company’s best-selling product, Barnes & Noble says.

“Since launching our e-bookstore in the second half of last year, Barnes & Noble has quickly captured approximately 20% of the exploding e-book market. We have plans to grow our share well beyond 20%, and the early success of Nookcolor is encouraging,” says William Lynch, CEO of Barnes & Noble Inc.

The company noted Q2 investments in multiple digital initiatives including: software and cloud services development costs; expenses relating to Nookcolor; the addition of thousands of titles to its digital catalog, including a subscription management platform for digital newspapers and magazines; creating interactive proprietary content for children’s books; developing applications to serve multiple e-reading and smartphone devices–including iPad, iPhone, Android and BlackBerry; and the rollout of Nook Boutiques in Barnes & Noble retail stores.

For the first six months of the 2011 fiscal year, Barnes & Noble reported:

  • Web sales of $321.4 million, up by about 44.5% from $222.5 million in the prior year period.
  • Total retail sales of $1.90 billion, down by .05% from $2.0 billion.
  • College sales of $1.02 billion, compared with $65.2 million. College sales increased $958.4 million because of the acquisition in September 2009. Comparable-sales for B&N College decreased 0.7%.
  • Net loss of $75.1 million, compared with a net loss of $11.7 million in the prior year period.

Internet Retailer calculates the web represented 16.9% of sales for the first half of 2011, compared with 11.1% in the prior year period.

In August, Barnes & Noble’s board of directors created a committee to review strategic alternatives, including a possible sale of the company. Last week a group of Borders Group Inc. shareholders offered to finance the purchase of Barnes & Noble. The latter company declined to comment on the offer.

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