Sales of the Nook e-reader slow

Barnes & Noble’s digital media sales held down the company’s financial results in its most recent quarter.

Jae C. Hong /Associated Press

Barnes & Noble’s digital media sales held down the company’s financial results in its most recent quarter.

NEW YORK — Books may have a longer shelf life than expected. Barnes & Noble posted a third-quarter loss, partly because demand for its e-books and Nook e-book readers has plummeted.

The company said sales of digital media — including books, newspapers, magazines, and apps — rose just 7 percent. Sales rose 38 percent in the second quarter and 46 percent in the first quarter.


Barnes & Noble has invested heavily in the Nook and a digital library as more readers shift to electronic books and competition from discount stores and online rivals grows.

The Nook unit has attracted investors — Microsoft owns 16.8 percent, while the UK publisher and education company Pearson has a 5 percent stake. But it has not been profitable and has fared worse than its competitors, the Kindle from, and the iPad and iPad Mini from ­Apple Inc. The company acknowledges it must take steps to make the Nook unit profitable, or try to spin it off.

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The Nook weighed on the retail stores. Revenue in the entire retail unit, which includes the bookstores and website, fell 10 percent to $1.51 billion. But excluding Nook sales, revenue in Barnes & Noble stores open at least one year fell 2.2 percent.

The company posted a loss of $6.1 million, or 18 cents per share. Analysts had expected a profit of 53 cents per share.

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