booksBrick-and-mortar bookselling has faced more pressure and scrutiny in 2010 than in nearly any other year. Top dog Barnes & Noble (BKS) is for sale and in the midst of a bitter proxy fight, while No. 2 retailer Borders (BGP) continues to look for salvation in the form of revolving door CEOs and seemingly never-ending layoffs.

But the third-largest bookstore chain, Books-A-Million (BAMM) quietly rumbles along at a relatively stable pace, evident in its most recent quarterly earnings, which were released Thursday afternoon. The chain's numbers aren't spectacular -- sales declined, as it did the previous quarter -- but its earnings were up at a time when its competitors can't say the same.

"Solid Results"

For the second quarter ending July 31, net sales were $120 million, a 2.4% decrease from a year ago, while comparable store sales dropped 3.2% versus the same quarter last year. Net income, however increased to $1.9 million, compared with $1.5 million a year ago. The fiscal year to date had the same pattern of net sales drop (1.5% to $237 million) and net income increase (up 8% to $3.9 million) as well.

President and CEO Clyde Anderson said in a statement that the company "did a good job to deliver solid results in a tough environment" and was pleased with their earnings "despite the tough comparisons to last year in the core book business during the quarter."

The "solid results" came despite not having a big hit like last year, when Stephenie Meyer's Twilight novels and books by Glenn Beck and Mark Levin added hefty sums to their bottom line, but as Publishers Lunch pointed out, Books-A-Million has a tendency to rely on similar excuse tropes year after year. In 2009, the company claimed difficulty in relation to Meyer's 2008 book Breaking Dawn, while in 2008, they complained there was no big hit like J.K. Rowling's final Harry Potter novel.

Attractive Stability

But investors still like Books-A-Million for its "rock solid" margins, as Seeking Alpha's Jae Jun explained, and because of the way the company has stayed stable over the last few years when the book industry's waters have been anything but calm.

What remains to be seen is whether the company's investment in frozen yogurt chain Yogurt Mountain last April will prove more boon than bust -- and whether the next quarter will deliver the kind of Meyer or Rowling-like monster hit they are clearly hoping for.

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Investors don't like anything right now. Traders do. It is pointless to invest until we get rid of the main Parasite and his cronies.

August 23 2010 at 11:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Never heard of them. Must not be a national chain. Then again, I seldom visit book stores any more. Amazon and Booksfree stole this customer years ago. I do miss physically browsing among mountains of books, but not enough to seek out bookstores or fight traffic to get to them. I can browse on line in my pajamas.

August 23 2010 at 10:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I am not a fan of Books A Million, the books always look used and the store cluttered looking much of the time. The bathrooms are nasty too. And weekends it's noisy (they often have big events like Pokeman tournaments for kids), which makes it not very condusive for browsing. The whole place has a very low cost feel to it. Unfortunately Barnes and Noble (which I loved) closed up here the past month, so we have nothing left but BAM now. I'll be buying my books from Amazon online it looks like.

August 23 2010 at 10:45 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Better prices and greater selection at Books-A-Million. Love the place, could spend hours in there.

August 23 2010 at 10:10 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Two weeks ago an AOL article said that due to the books on line trend (e-books/kindle) most standard booksellers would be out of business if they diid not adapt with the times. Now here is an article seeming to say Books A Miillion would be a good investment. BAM pulled their store from our area as soon as earnings exxpectations apparently did not meet their expectations, a nuumber of years ago...then a secoond competitor followed suit. Now only Barnes & Noble remain and I try to purchase books from them when I have mmoney for such a luxury. BAM can take a hike now, just like they did on my community 5 years ago.

August 23 2010 at 10:09 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Books A Milion owned by the Anderson family would not be one I would shop or invest in since they walked away from there Magazine and Book distributor buisness a year ago and left thousands unemployed without notice.

August 23 2010 at 10:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I came to the conclusion that I lovvved Books-A-Million. First, it is huge. They have so many great sales-it's almost unreal. The one that is close to me has the middle aisle of the store with containers of books on sale. Also, they have a great stationary and do-dad selection. They also provide a much greater variety of books on each subject they carry. For instance, I love antiques, so usually I go that section of the bookstore. I used to go to Barnes and Nobles first, and they had a big selection, but then I started noticing they had less and less variety. I then started going to Borders- same thing there. When I went to Books-A-Million, I was blown away by their vast selection of antique reference books to chose from. I love going there now, and it won me over the very first visit I made to the store. Keep up the good work, and don't go down the path of Barnes and Borders.

August 23 2010 at 8:27 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Books A Million are TERRIBLE stores. I go to 2 stores in my area Ft. Myers & Port Charlotte Florida once in a while but go to the local Barnes & Nobles 90% of the time. While most stores Borders include let people sit around and sample books. Its out of control at Books A Million! They let people sit their for 4 hrs at a time and ruin a lot of books & magazines. Books A Million is like a day care for all ages most of the time. They need to decide if they are gonna be an actual retail store to buy NEW Books that have not been manhandled and beat to ****. If not they need to just turn into a Library. Its a joke!

August 23 2010 at 8:23 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Books-A-Million is NOT a very good bookstore. I prefer Barnes and Noble. Can't stand Borders either.

August 23 2010 at 7:09 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply