Despite a disappointing fourth quarter, Books-A-Million was able to improve profits for the fiscal year ended January 30, with net income increasing 30.2%, to $13.8 million. Sales for the year were down 1.3%, to $508.7 million, with comp sales off 3.8%. Same-store sales were particularly weak in the fourth quarter, which CEO Clyde Anderson attributed to strong sales of Stephenie Meyer titles in last year's final quarter and the continuing weak economy. Bargain books did well in the fourth quarter, as they did all year, and gift sales were also up in the final period, Anderson said. Sales in the cafe and membership club operation stabilized in the quarter, he added. With sales down, cost controls and inventory management led to the profit gains, Anderson said.

During the year, BAM opened two superstores and two smaller stores while closing two smaller stores, finishing the year with 223 outlets. In February, BAM opened its first three stores in Pennsylvania as well as a store in northern New Jersey, and Anderson said BAM intends to be “more aggressive” in terms of opening new stores in 2010 than in 2009. He noted that BAM tends to sign three-year leases for most of its stores, a strategy that has helped during the recession as landlords have been willing to work with the bookstore chain on lease improvements.

In the digital arena, BAM will soon announce its plans for the e-book market. Anderson said he doesn't believe e-book sales had a meaningful impact on store sales in 2009, but acknowledged that could change in the future. The company's online sales have improved since BAM enhanced the Web site for customer use, and online sales are doing “really well” in the first quarter, Anderson said. “We'd like to keep growing that business,” he said.

Books-A-Million, 2009 Results
($ in millions)

2008 2009 % Change
Source: Reed Business Information
Sales $515.3 $508.7 -1.3%
Net income 10.6 13.8 30.2
Comp sales -3.8