Barnes & Noble Losses Continue To Mount As Customers Use It As Amazon’s Showroom

Barnes and Noble Sales Decline

If its most recent sales figures are any indications, Barnes & Noble has become nothing more than a showroom for Amazon.

The book and music retailer on Friday announced another decline in sales, it’s largest of the year.

Barnes & Noble’s long-term debt tripled from a year ago to $192 million. The company has only $13.4 million in cash — down from $32 million a year ago.

Barnes & Noble tanked by more than 20% on the news and are now down nearly 40% this year.

The company has tried to keep up with Amazon, but it’s Nook e-book went largely ignored and sales on the device have plunged 32% year-over-year.

In an interesting move, none of the analysts on the company’s earnings call mentioned Amazon by name.

The company has been going through a lot of transition since 2010. Steve Riggio, brother of Barnes & Noble founder and largest shareholder Leonard Riggio, left in 2010. He was succeeded by William Lynch, who exited the company in 2013. CFO Michael Huseby replaced him and resigned last summer to take over Barnes & Noble Education, the college bookstore unit of Barnes & Noble that the company decided to spin off instead of Nook.

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Barnes & Noble’s latest CEO is Ron Boire, who left Sears Canada to take the job.

Four CEOs in five years is never a good sign for a struggling company.

CFO Allen Lindstrom tried to put some spin on the company’s losses by saying the company often racks up more debt in advance of the holiday shopping season. This year’s losses were bigger because of a severance package paid to Huseby, and the company’s decision to buy out the stakes that Microsoft and book publisher Pearson, had put into the Nook business last December.

Lindstrom said the company typically pays off a big chunk of its debt early on in the calendar year with proceeds from its holiday sales.

Same-store sales were up 1.1% in the current quarter through Black Friday. Boire also said that online sales improved between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

The company says it will continue to perfect its in-store model, noting that a recent “Mini Maker Faire” drew in Millennials while other offerings, such as coloring books for adults, have continued to prove fruitful.