and Barnes & both reported stronger first-quarter sales gains in 2004 over the same period of 2003.

Net sales at B& rose 8.4%, to $114.9 million, and the company reduced its net loss to $9.8 million from $13.1 million in last year's first quarter. Kevin Frain, B& chief financial officer, told PW sales of bestsellers were very strong in the period, as were textbook sales. The e-tailer also benefited from the redemption of gift cards sold over the holidays, Frain said.

The reduction in B&'s loss was due in part to lower marketing, sales and editorial costs, the company said. The company's EBITDA loss was $3.7 million, down from $5.9 million, and company CEO Marie Toulantis said B& "is well positioned to reach our target of full-year EBITDA profitability."

For the second quarter, sales are projected to be in the $85 million to $95 million range. Sales in last year's second quarter were $86.5 million, a total that included sales from the blockbuster Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. The company repeated that sales for the full year are expected to be in the $435 million to $475 million range, compared to 2003 sales of $425 million.

The first-quarter report is B&'s last as a separate company. The e-tailer said it expects its purchase by Barnes & Noble to be completed by the end of May.

At Amazon, sales in its North America media segment, which includes books, music, DVDs, software and magazines, rose 15.7%, to $598.7 million. Sales in the international media segment jumped to $576.1 million from $355.7 million in the comparable period in 2003.