Barnes & Noble sales declined 6.6% in the quarter ended July 29, behind same store sales declines of 4.9% and declines in online and digital sales.  For the second quarter in a row (see "Sales at Barnes & Noble Dip Again"), the sales declines were in the non-book categories like games and toys that had until recently been on an upward tear.  B&N didn’t specify the categories that declined, but noted that its book sales were up (especially juvenile titles) and it was the non-book categories that declined.  It’s likely that the company’s sales of DVDs and music continue to decline, but toys and games also have to be suspect as the chain had repeatedly cited those as positive trend categories until recently.

Earnings improved from a loss of $14.4 million for the quarter in the year ago period to a loss of $10.8 million this year, behind aggressive expense control.

Both the sales and the earnings were worse than investors expected, leading to a punishing decline of over 9.5% in the stock price on Thursday.

The company touted its new store formats, efforts to re-merchandise its stores, and other initiatives as efforts that would improve results in the next fiscal year, promising only sales declines and flat earnings for the current year.

One test we hadn’t heard about before was a program to ship online orders from store inventory, which was expanded from four to 60 stores recently.