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Barnes & Noble's outlook is blurry, even for Nook

William Lynch, President of BN.com, presents the new 'Nook' digital reading device on October 20, 2009 in New York City.

Barnes & Noble had been expected to announce its financial results today, but it pushed the date back to February 28. Analysts predict the bookseller will report a profit for last quarter, but the outlook is doesn't look so good -- not even for its Nook e-reader.

Barnes & Noble says this year its Nook will lose more than the $260 million it originally predicted.

"Unfortunately the digital side is the side that's supposed to be doing better," says Laura Owen*, who covers publishing for tech website GigaOm. She says that in addition to the bad Nook news, sales in stores and online are down.

"So all of those things combined make it not look very good for the company," she concludes.

To try to pump up sales, Barnes & Noble is putting more toys, games and cards on its shelves -- which means less room for books.

“Who said the offering in the store should be limited to books?” asks Jerry Wind, who teaches marketing at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton business school. But he adds, "You have a far wider selection online, better prices. Why come to the store?"

That, Wind says, is what Barnes & Noble will have to figure out if it wants to keep its brick and mortar stores profitable.


* CORRECTION: The original article misspelled GigaOm tech writer Laura Owen's name. The text has been corrected.

About the author

Sally Herships is a regular contributor to Marketplace.

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