Barnes & Noble ebooks selling three times more ebooks than print

Barnes & Noble Nook Simple Touch eReader (CEO William Lynch)

Bookseller Barnes & Noble has announced financial results for its fourth fiscal quarter of 2011, totaling up a net loss of $59 million for the quarter, and a full-year loss of $74 million. However, the company’s digital business seems to be growing by leaps and bounds, with sales growth of 78 percent for its Nook and Nook Bookstore offerings during the fourth quarter alone, and up 65 percent compared to the same quarter a year ago. Coupled with a 50 percent year-on-year increase in sales through BN.com, the company saw a total net sales increase of 20 percent for the year, to a total of $7 billion.

And there back in February the company said it was selling twice as many ebooks as physical books from its online store, during its earnings conference call the company said that number number to three times as many ebooks during the fourth quarter.

Barnes & Noble noted that comparable store sales were down 2.9 percent for the quarter, in part due to the liquidation of over 200 Borders bookstores during the quarter, meaning Barnes & Noble locations in affected markets saw a drop in sales as Borders blew out inventory at those locations. The company says it’s beginning to see incremental sales increases in those markets in the wake of the Borders store closures.

Barnes & Noble’s digital business, on the other hand, saw significant growth, with sales from BN.com totaling $217 million for the quarter and $858 million for the year. Barnes & Noble CEO William Lynch said the company’s overall Nook business grew to $250 million over the quarter, a 300 percent increase compared to the same quarter a year ago. Nook revenue figures include both sales of physical devices as well as ebooks sold through BN.com; combined with the company’s online sales, digital goods total perhaps 15–18 percent of Barnes & Noble’s overall sales.

Lynch indicated Barnes & Noble’s board is still evaluating Liberty Media’s $1 billion offer for a 70 percent stake in the company.

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