Astrong April helped drive sales up 2.8%, to $1.45 billion, at Barnes & Noble in the first quarter ended May 5. CEO Steve Riggio credited “the strongest first-quarter release schedule in two or three years” for the increase, which was slightly above expectations. The Secret, which topped the B&N charts in hardcover, audio and DVD, was the retailers' biggest seller. Higher discounts given to members of B&N's loyalty program, and more loyalty members, was cited as the primary reason for a first-quarter loss of $1.7 million, compared to net earnings of $10 million in last year's first period.

With the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows scheduled for July, B&N is forecasting same-store sales to increase in the low to mid single digits in the current quarter. Sales in early May have been mixed, but A Thousand Splendid Suns and The Reagan Diaries were off to a solid start.