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Barnes & Noble saw a 21% increase in sales to $1.4 billion in its fiscal first quarter 2011. As sales in stores dropped, online sales made big gains. Barnes & Noble.com sales increased 42% as compared to the prior year to $145 million, with comparable sales increasing 53%.

Barnes & Noble store sales decreased 2% to $1.0 billion, with comparable store sales decreasing 0.9% for the quarter. In 2011, total sales include Barnes & Noble College Bookstore sales of $226 million. College’s comparable store sales increased 2.9%, exceeding guidance of flat comparable store sales.

B&N CEO William Lynch attributed the digital growth to the Nook. He said that since the Nook launched nine months ago, Barnes & Noble has gained greater market share in digital books than it has in physical books. Lynch said that members with Nook devices have increased their spending by approximately 20%. He also said that Nook has expanded the Barnes & Noble customer base, as 25% of all Nook customers new to BN.com.