Rough holiday for Barnes & Noble: Nook sales fall 12.6%

Sales in Barnes & Noble’s Nook device and e-book business were $311 million for the nine weeks of the 2012 holiday shopping season, down 12.6 percent from the same period a year earlier.

That’s the word this morning from the bookseller. Combined with a 10.9 percent decrease in Barnes & Noble’s physical and web retail division, it was a rough holiday for the company. The bookseller isn’t seeing the growth in its device and digital content businesses needed to make up for the decline in traditional retail book sales.

Barnes & Noble partners with Microsoft on the Nook business and competes with Amazon.com and its Kindle lineup, which was revamped to go head-to-head with overhauled Nook devices.

“NOOK device sales got off to a good start over the Black Friday period, but then fell short of expectations for the balance of holiday,” says Barnes & Noble CEO William Lynch in a news release. “We are examining the root cause of the December shortfall in sales, and will adjust our strategies accordingly going forward.”

Although Nook device sales declined for the holiday period, digital content sales increased 13.1 percent. Barnes & Noble says it now expects the Nook business to post revenues of $3 billion in fiscal 2013, while still operating at a loss.

Barnes & Noble says its digital strategy “will continue to center around delivering the best digital reading, shopping and content experience in the market, while also being diligent about calibrating expenses to business trends in order to scale the business to profitability over time.”

Microsoft, which invested $300 million in the Nook business, will own slightly less than 17 percent of the Barnes & Noble subsidiary after a new investment by the Pearson publishing company.