The numbers are in for Barnes and Noble's most recent quarter, and matters could definitely be better. Let's put it this way: When a company's bottom line is bouyed by the runaway popularity of a raunchy romance--rather than by sales of the devices to which it's devoted a ludicrous amount of in-store floor space--it's probably not a particularly encouraging sign.
It's got to be especially discouraging, however, for Microsoft. Back in April, the company agreed to invest $300 million in "NEWCO," the subsidiary Barnes and Noble is creating from its Nook and college businesses. We can't imagine the staid software company entered into the agreement in hopes of receiving a BDSM boost to its bottom line.
Here's the spin that Barnes and Noble CEO William Lynch put on the company's earnings, chirping away about the 50 Shades frenzy:
“During the first quarter, we continued to see improvement in both our rapidly growing NOOK business, which saw digital content sales increase 46% during the quarter, and at our bookstores, which continue to benefit from market consolidation and strong sales of the Fifty Shades series.”
Note that he cites digital content sales. The sales of the Nook device itself? Not so great. The earnings report says:
Device sales declined for the quarter due to lower average selling prices and production scaling issues surrounding the popular newly launched GlowLight product resulting in unmet demand.
Did we just hear a bear-like bellow of fury from the general direction of Redmond?