And then the bookworm was transformed into a beautiful butterfly, soaring high for all in the investing community to see.

Book retailer Books-A-Million (NASDAQ:BAMM) has turned the page on a successful year, wrapping up a profit of $0.43 a share on a respectable 3.3% gain in same-store sales. Big deal, you say? With just over 200 stores, the chain is but a booklet compared to giants Barnes & Noble (NYSE:BKS) and Borders (NYSE:BGP). The $460.2 million that the company rang up in net sales isn't even a tenth of the $5.3 billion earned by online powerhouse and Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN).

All true. But if you start working the numbers, Books-A-Million might be more than just obscure. It might be cheap, too. The retailer is looking to earn between $0.49 and $0.51 a share in the coming fiscal year. Using last night's close, that puts the stock at just 11 times forward earnings.

To be sure, booksellers aren't afforded lofty multiples. Borders and Barnes & Noble fetch just 14 and 15 times this year's bottom-line targets, respectively. However, Books-A-Million is trading below book value at just 0.2 times sales and roughly 5 times trailing cash flow. While that comes along with a highly leveraged balance sheet, the same can be said for its larger peers that trade at multiples twice as high.

No, Books-A-Million isn't perfect. It would be great to see it trim back its debt and grow its flagship chain. Of course, short of diluting existing shareholders, one normally comes at the expense of the other. Yet, in a slow but steady industry that has been recession-tested, Books-A-Million is a bargain -- and a butterfly -- amongst bookworms.

What are words for when no one listens anymore? Is book reading becoming a lost art? All this and more -- in the Words, Words, Words discussion board. Only on

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz loves to read almost as much as he loves to write. He does not own shares in any companies mentioned in this story.