Barnes & Noble reported a not-terrible nine-week holiday sales period: Total sales at the division comprising the BN stores and BN.com were basically flat at $1.1 billion (up 0.2 percent), though that result was helped by “favorable timing of the fiscal nine-week period, which ended on January 3 this year as compared to December 28 last year,” which made up for some of the sales lost due to store closures. Sales would have been down 1.6 percent absent the schedule gain.
Bookstore comp sales declined 0.6 percent because of Nook declines; “core” store sales, leaving aside Nook devices and accessories, rose 1.7 percent, once again due mostly to “growth in the educational toys and games and gift departments.” Actual book sales experienced “continuing stabilization.”
Nook sales continued to evaporate: That segment recorded sales of $56 million for the holidays, down 55.4 percent. (A year ago, Nook sales of $125 million were down 60.5 percent from $311 million for the 2012 holiday season.) Device sales fell the most, down 68 percent to $28.5 million. The company has not said anything about it, but it does not take a math genius to infer that they are running well short of their targeted sales of Samsung tablets. They had promised to buy at least 1 million tablets from Samsung over a 12- to 15-month period. But the numbers would indicate they cannot have sold more than about 200,000 units so far. Digital content sales fell less, down 25 percent at $27.4 million for the period, from $36.5 million a year ago.
While the company did not change their overall sales guidance for the fiscal year, they did increase their expectations for those “core” bookstore comps, now expecting them “to be approximately flat” for the year. The stock market is rising today, and Barnes & Noble’s stock is moving up as well, by almost $1 a share, reaching a new 52-week high of roughly $24.50 a share.
In other Barnes & Noble store news, the company closed their location in Scottsdale, AZ at Kierland Commons at the end of December. This was not one of the expected closings already noted, but BN was unable to negotiate a new lease after two completing a two-year extension of the original lease.
Who — if anyone — buys Nook this year and what they do with it remains one of the single most important questions for the future of trade publishing this year. At next week’s big Digital Book World Conference, we’ll have a chance to hear from nearly every other major ebook player on the landscape, from Amazon’s Russ Grandinetti and Apple’s Keith Moerer in main stage keynote conversations to additional presentations and panels featuring Chris Palma and Amanda Edmonds from Google Play Books, and Michael Tamblyn and Nathan Maharaj from Kobo. More broadly, we’ll hear from the subscription players (Blloon, Enthrill, Findaway World, Oyster and Scribd); new and remade publishers (Lonely Planet’s young ceo Daniel Houghton, Regan Arts, Full Fathom Five, Georgia McBride Media, and others); digital plays from outside of book publishing (Quartz; Forbes Media; the New York Times); and many other top executives from across technology, education, children’s publishing and beyond. If you’re joining us for the best DBW line-up ever, make sure to register ahead of time through this link to get the best available discount, 10 percent off the posted prices.