A Tale of Two Retailers

by Deepak Sharma on Monday, January 03, 2011

And these two retailers are, Barnes & Noble and Borders. Barnes & Noble today reported strong holiday results led by some good sales of its Nook e-readers. Same-store sales, rose 9.7 percent for the nine-week period ended on January 1. A large part of this increase has come because of the popularity and sales of Nook which is in direct competition with Amazon.com's Kindle e-reader.

Barnes & Noble says Nook boosts holiday sales

Barnes & Noble Inc reported strong preliminary holiday results at its superstores, led by the popularity of its Nook e-readers, and shares rose more than 5 percent.

The top U.S. bookseller said that same-store sales, or sales at its superstores open at least 15 months, rose 9.7 percent for the nine-week period ended on January 1.

Barnes & Noble, which put itself up for sale in August, introduced the Nook in 2009 in a bid to compete with Amazon.com's market-leading Kindle e-reader as it seeks to prove itself viable amid bookbuyers' shift to digital formats.

In the fall, the retailer introduced a well-reviewed, enhanced version of the device, NookColor, which has some functions similar to those of Apple's iPad tablet.

Barnes & Noble in November had forecast same-store sales for the entire current quarter, including the holiday period, would rise between 5 and 7 percent.

Barnes & Noble's numbers include Nook devices sold in stores but not on its website. Last week, Barnes & Noble, which operates 717 namesake stores in the United States, said the Nook had become its best selling single item ever. The retailer said it would release more detailed sales figures on Thursday.

Now compare this with Borders, which is the second largest US bookstore chain after Barnes and Noble. Borders is reporting that it is delaying payments to some publishers trying to avert a liquidity crisis.

Borders Delays Payments to Publishers

In an ominous turn of events for the book business, Borders Group Inc. said Thursday it is delaying payments to some publishers, a sign that its financial troubles are worsening.

The nation's second-largest bookstore chain by revenue, behind Barnes & Noble Inc., said the delays were part of its efforts to refinance its debt and that it had notified the publishers with which it is seeking to restructure payments.

The retailer also said "there can be no assurance" that its larger refinancing efforts will be successful.

Sign of the times, I say. With competition from Kindle and the ebooks, B&N was able to remold themselves as a Digital company with Nook, Borders did not and results are there to be seen. There is more competition coming from Google and that will put even more pressure on Borders to rethink its strategy.