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B&N sales get push from Nook

NEW YORK — Barnes & Noble reported that total sales for the first quarter were $1.4 billion, a 2% increase compared with the prior year. Sales through BN.com increased 37% as compared with the prior year to $198 million, with comparable sales increasing 65%. This increase was driven by strong demand for the Nook product line, including the continued success of the Nook Color, the mid-quarter launch of the Nook Simple Touch Reader and a quadrupling of digital content sales over last year’s first quarter.

Barnes & Noble store sales decreased 3% to $1 billion, with comparable-store sales decreasing 1.6% for the quarter. While traditional physical book sales declined during the quarter, the stores posted large increases in sales of the Nook product line and toys and games, the company reported. In a non-back-to-school period, Barnes & Noble College Bookstore sales declined 2% to $220 million, with comparable-store sales decreasing 1.8%.

The consolidated Nook business across all of the company’s segments, including sales of digital content, device hardware and related accessories, increased 140% in the first quarter to $277 million, on a comparable sales basis.

William Lynch, chief executive officer, said, “We plan to continue investing in the significant growth areas of our business, and in fiscal 2012, we expect to see leverage as our digital sales growth is projected to exceed the growth of investment spend. Additionally, the return on investment is expected to increase in future years, as readers purchase increasing amounts of digital content on the platform we have built.”

For the full fiscal year 2012 consolidated sales are forecasted to be $7.4 billion. Comparable sales at BN.com are expected to increase 60% to 70%. Barnes & Noble comparable-store sales are expected to increase 2% to 3%.

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