Barnes & Noble, the largest chain of bookshops in the US, said sales of physical books are sliding sharply at its stores and it no longer expects any of the company's growth to come from that traditional business.
The company is pinning its hopes instead on the Nook e-reader, a rival to Amazon's Kindle, and on sales of e-books for the device, which it promised to double to $1.8bn (£1.1bn) this year.
B&N's latest quarterly results, out yesterday, showed the accelerating changes in the way books are read and sold, and underscored the difficulties facing traditional bookstores. The company posted a loss of $56.6m for the period, slightly narrower than the $62.5m it lost in the same quarter last year, and said it would remain in the red for the financial year as a whole.
Same-store sales were down 1.6 per cent, as surging sales of toys and games and Nook readers failed to make up for the decline in books.
But investors were cheered that Nook sales – including the device, accessories and downloads of e-books and magazines – rose 140 per cent to $227m. B&N shares jumped more than 10 per cent in early trading.
The company this month secured a $204m investment from John Malone's Liberty Media, while rival chain Borders is being liquidated after going bankrupt.
B&N said it expected sales to jump significantly when Borders' closing down sales are finally over.