Total sales at Barnes & rose 5.9% for the third quarter ended September 30, 2002, to $102.6 million, and the company's net loss was cut to $17.5 million from $38.3 million in the comparable period last year. Sales made directly to consumers increased 13.1% in the quarter, to $95.4 million, while sales to corporate accounts fell 42.7%, to $7.1 million.

The reduction in losses was attributed to a cut in operating expenses, from $60.8 million to $42.3 million, in the most recent quarter, combined with a higher internal fulfillment rate and more efficient shipping. Marie Toulantis, B& CEO, said the company has reduced its losses quicker than expected and noted that the e-tailer is "well positioned to reach our goal of breakeven or slightly positive EBITDA in 2003."

B& chairman Len Riggio also weighed in with a vote of confidence for the company. He noted that Bertelsmann has joined Barnes & Noble in deciding to buy B&'s stock, and maintained that "both major shareholders are fully committed to the long-term success of Barnes &" Since B&N announced its intention on October 1 to buy up to $10 million of B& stock, it has acquired 534,000 shares at a total cost of about $424,000. Bertelsmann is expected to begin buying shares after October 31.

B& did lower its sales expectations for the full year, forecasting revenue of $400 million to $420 million in 2002; it had been predicting sales of between $400 million and $450 million. Sales through the first nine months of the year were $294.9 million, a 1.8% increase over the same period in 2001.