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NEW YORK CITY-Helped by best sellers by horror writer Stephen King and novelist James Patterson, first-quarter profit rose slightly at Barnes & Noble, but lower customer-traffic counts cut into sales at stores open at least a year, the company says. Earnings for the quarter ending April 29 was just under $10 million, or 14 cents per share, a slight increase over the same period a year earlier when profit was just over $9.9 million, or 13 cents.

Total sales for the company rose 2% to $1.1 billion, up from $1.09 billion a year ago, with sales at Barnes & Nobles stores also showing a slight 2% increase to $981 million. Meanwhile, same-store sales decreased 0.3%, below the low single digit increase called for in the company’s guidance. Officials say the decline was due to a drop in traffic, primarily in late April and the failure of a single book to emerge as a best seller during the quarter.

At its smaller chain, B. Dalton, sales fell 26% to $23.3 million due to a 1.8% drop in same-store sales combined with five store closings. Sales at Barnes & Noble’s website were also flat at $91.1 million. The company also closed five stores under its Barnes & Noble flag and opened eight others during the quarter.

The retailer, which operates 680 stores under the Barnes & Noble and Dalton brands, said it expects same-store sales at its Barnes & Noble chain to fall to the low single digits for the second quarter, bringing in earnings of between 22 cents and 26 cents per share.Barnes & Noble also said it expects full-year same-store sales to be in the low single digits with earnings for the year expected to range from $2.20 to $2.30 per share.

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