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Booksellers Going More Multimedia

23 May, 2005 By: Jessica Wolf


The two leading book retailers — Barnes & Noble and Borders Inc. — have launched plans that highlight the chains' evolution as multimedia retailers.

Barnes & Noble announced it would partner with its former subsidy GameStop Corp. to launch a PC and console video game store for the Web through Barnes & Noble's site.

The dedicated site will carry new and used games for all platforms as well as PC games and gaming hardware. The site also will offer classic systems like Super Nintendo, Dreamcast and PlayStation.

The new venture also will serve as a preorder destination for upcoming games and gaming products.

The two companies plan to provide exclusive bundles and special promotions for game product, said Marie Toulantis, CEO of Barnes & Noble.com.

Competitor Borders this year will convert 75 to 100 Waldenbooks locations to Borders Express stores, which boast a redesigned look and an expanded offering of music, movies, gifts and stationery products as well as lower prices on bestsellers.

Borders launched the Borders Express concept late last year, converting 37 Waldenbooks stores to the new format.

Meanwhile, both booksellers faced a tepid book market for the first quarter of the year.

Borders' first-quarter consolidated sales were up 2 percent from 2004, to $847.2 million, but the company posted a net loss of $5.3 million, compared to net income of $2.3 million for first-quarter 2004. Sales of bestsellers were down, trade book sales were up in the low single-digits, and music sales were down. Comp-store sales at Borders superstores were down 0.7 percent, and comp-store sales for mall chain Waldenbooks dropped 3.1 percent.

Barnes & Noble announced a 4 percent increase in total first-quarter sales, to $1.1 billion. Store sales were up 5 percent, to $959.2 million. But net income was down about 15 percent, from $11.4 million in 2004 to $9.9 million in the first quarter of this year. Sales at B. Dalton locations were down 21.5 percent, to $31.5 million, due to store closings and comp-store declines.

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