With Barnes & Noble.com having easily the best year in its history in the fiscal year ended May 1, the nation’s largest book retailer is looking for even bigger gains in its online unit in the current fiscal year. Sales at B&N.com rose 24% in the year, to $573 million and the company projected that B&N.com could hit sales of $1 billion this year, with comparable store sales up 75%. (Barnes & Noble.com comparable sales reflects the actual retail selling price for eBooks sold under the agency model rather than solely the commission received.).

In a statement, B&N CEO William Lynch said, “In light of the exciting digital opportunity before us, we are planning to redirect a significant portion of our financial resources towards investments in technology, sales and marketing. These investments will impact our bottom line in 2011, but we believe they will enable Barnes & Noble to capitalize on the significant mid-to-long-term growth opportunities presented by the digital markets.” In his statement, B&N chairman Len Riggio observed that “The explosive growth of digital books has created the most compelling opportunity in Barnes & Noble’s history. We have found that Barnes & Noble Members, our best customers, have increased their combined physical and digital spend with us by 17% since purchasing a NOOK, and by a phenomenal 70% in total units.

In its bricks-and-mortar trade stores, sales were $4.3 billion with same store sales off 4.8%. College store sales were $836 million with comp sales down 0.3%. Total revenue for all of B&N was $5.8 billion in fiscal 2010 with net earnings of $36.7 million. Overshadowed by the digital numbers was the fact that B&N predicted that same store sales of its trade stores would be flat to up 3% in the fiscal year, something that hasn’t happened in two years. College comps are expected to be flat.