By Ramkumar Iyer
(Reuters) - Barnes & Noble Inc, the largest U.S. bookstore chain, reported a decline in sales for the fifth successive quarter as lower demand for its Nook tablets and online books compounded a protracted slump in sales at its stores.
The company's shares fell as much as 16.6 percent on Wednesday.
In recent years, stiff competition from online retailers such as Amazon.com Inc has eaten into sales at Barnes & Noble's bookstores and gutted demand for its Nook e-readers.
Despite bold measures to sell a variety of merchandise at its stores - including toys, signed books and craft brewing kits - sales at the company's retail division fell 1.7 percent to $939 million in the quarter ended Aug. 1.
Sales at its Nook business fell 22 percent to $54 million.
Neil Saunders, chief executive of research firm Conlumino, said Barnes & Noble had failed to replicate its performance in the preceding quarter when it had managed to stem losses.
Overall, the company posted a bigger first-quarter loss than a year earlier.
"When taken as a whole, the financials paint a picture of a company still struggling to make its business model work," Saunders wrote in a note.
Comparable retail store sales rose 1.1 percent, driven by merchandise other than books. The company had 647 stores in the United States as of Aug. 1, or 11 fewer than a year earlier.
Last month, Barnes & Noble spun off its college books unit to focus more on its retail bookstores and better integrate its Nook business. Sales at the college books division rose 5.7 percent in the quarter.
Net loss attributable to Barnes & Noble increased to $34.9 million, or 68 cents per share, from $28.4 million, or 56 cents per share.
Revenue fell 1.5 percent to $1.22 billion.
Barnes & Noble shares were down 16.6 percent at $13.59 in late morning trading on Wednesday.
(Reporting by Ramkumar Iyer in Bengaluru; Editing by Don Sebastian and Robin Paxton)