Critics and industry speculators have been saying the same thing for far too long: Barnes and Noble is in trouble. And with the announcement that its third executive in the Nook division has left the company–most recently Jim Hilt, head of global ebook sales, and before him digital products director Jamie Iannone and VP of digital products Bill Saperstein–coupled with the disappointing holiday season sales and announcements of store closings, it’s easy to see why the rumors gain steam.
Following assurances to Good e-Reader from VP Theresa Horner only last October that B&N is fully committed to the Nook division, the company unveiled a brand-new dedicated e-reader. And certainly doing a year-on-year comparison of the 2013 holiday shopping season is a little unfair when taken into account that 2012 saw two brand-new Nook tablets roll out just in time for Christmas. But without plans at this time to replace these lost digital leadership positions at B&N, is the Nook division without direction?
Statements from within the company have promised once again the Barnes and Noble is committed to the Nook division and will be aggressively driving growth. The international rollout is taking longer than anticipated, with Nook still focused in the US, UK, and now Australia (some additional global markets can access the Nook ebook store through specific tablet apps, however), but at a time when there’s a high rate of turnover within the digital division, maintaining a slow but steady pace of international growth may be the smarter move to take.
Update: Mary Ellen Keating of Barnes and Noble released the following statement. “I can confirm that Bill Saperstein is no longer with the Company. Bill was instrumental in helping us develop our successful brand of NOOK devices. We thank him for his many contributions and wish him well in the future. We believe we have a strong management team in place at NOOK having recruited significant new talent, including Mahesh Veerina, Chief Operating Officer of NOOK Media. The new NOOK management team is focused on managing the business efficiently so that it becomes financially strong while at the same time aggressively moving to drive revenue growth.”
She went on to say “Jim Hilt will be leaving the Company sometime in February. We want to thank Jim for his contributions to the eBook business. With respect to digital content, this team is being led by Doug Carlson, EVP of Digital Content and Marketing. We have no additional personnel announcements at this time.”