All eyes are on bookseller Barnes & Noble this morning as it has announced earnings for the third quarter of fiscal year 2012, and it's a mixed bag: net income is down over 16 percent year over year from $60.6 million to $52 million, while sales are up some 5 percent to $2.4 billion. While you might imagine that brick-and-mortar stores would be a drag on the company, that's not the case: it reported a 2 percent increase in sales to $1.49 billion. Of course, online sales were still the big winner with a 32 percent uptick to $420 million, which Barnes & Noble attributes to "continued growth of Nook device and digital content sales."
Nook sales, specifically, were up a whopping 64 percent in the quarter — driven by holiday sales and introduction of the Nook Tablet, no doubt — and the earnings announcement comes bundled with the release of the new 8GB $199 model that the company is positioning to better compete head-to-head with the Kindle Fire. We're not seeing specific sales numbers for the Nooks broken down by SKU here, but they do say that "according to some of the largest U.S. publishers, we maintained or slightly gained share in the eBook market during the third quarter." The question on everyone's mind is whether B&N's physical and digital entities are lining up for a split — but in light of the numbers presented today, there's no solid evidence either way.