You read that right. Barnes & Noble (NYSE: BKS) said its online sales rose 24 percent to $573 million for the fiscal year that just ended and, based on trends since it launched its e-bookstore and Nook e-reader, expects sales to hit $1 billion for FY2011. It’s not quite as lucrative as it seems: part of the increase comes from booking e-sales under the actual retail rate sold through the agency model rather than only on commission for sales. New CEO William Lynch says the company will put more of its financial resources towards “investments in technology, sales and marketing” to continue the digital push.
Barnes & Noble says B&N Members who own a Nook have increased their spend on physical and digital by 17 percent. (Members pay $25 a year for discounts and other benefits.) Unit sales for the group rose 70 percent. More details are likely to emerge during a Tuesday morning earnings call.
Those grand numbers don’t alter other truths: Including tax benefits, Barnes & Noble lost $32 million in the quarter ending May 2. Total sales were up 19 percent to $1.3 billion but store sales were down about 3 percent. With the increased investment, the most optimistic B&N estimate for FY2011 is breakeven; The least is a loss of 40 cents per share.