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Barnes & Noble's Nook sales decline, but bookstores buoyed by 'Fifty Shades of Grey'

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Barnes & Noble has reported lower losses than last quarter and strong bookstore and digital content sales, but Nook revenue remains flat.

Gallery Photo: Barnes & Noble Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight review pictures
Gallery Photo: Barnes & Noble Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight review pictures

Bookseller Barnes & Noble's latest earnings still don't put the company on steady ground, but both revenue and net earnings have both improved a bit. The company reported revenue that was slightly higher than last quarter — $1.5 billion instead of $1.4 — and the net loss declined, from almost $58 million to $41 million. However, the sales patterns were pretty similar: digital content is still selling strong, but e-readers themselves have slumped, and little was said about the pending partnership with Microsoft.

As with last quarter, Nook e-reader sales are declining, and though Nook content sales grew by 46 percent, that's a little slower than the 65 percent we saw earlier. Product markdowns apparently took a toll on Nook revenue, as did problems scaling up production on the Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight, leading to limited availability at launch. Bookstore sales, meanwhile, continued to do better than one might imagine, with sales increasing almost 5 percent from last year. Barnes & Noble attributed this both to the liquidation of competitor Borders and to "strong sales of the Fifty Shades of Grey series." Apparently the quintessential e-reader novels are doing good things for hardcopy business as well.