As Barnes & Noble continues to shuffle its ranks internally, the future of its Nook e-reader division seems all the more uncertain. Business Insider now reports that the company has laid off much, if not all, of its Nook engineering staff.
In a statement sent to BI, a B&N spokesperson confirmed that layoffs were taking place, but would not comment specifically on the number of employees leaving the company:
We’ve been very clear about our focus on rationalizing the NOOK business and positioning it for future success and value creation. As we’ve aligned NOOK’s cost structure with business realities, staffing levels in certain areas of our organization have changed, leading to some job eliminations. We’re not going to comment specifically on those eliminations.
The writing is on the wall
The news comes little more than a month after longtime Barnes & Noble evangelist and former Nook Media CEO Mike Huseby was tapped for the B&N chief executive position. Huseby has for years defended the Nook product line in the face of crushing competition from the likes of Amazon. Last summer, despite posting losses across several quarters in its Nook business, he was bullish on the Nook's viability even in a reduced capacity, blaming the device's fortunes on corporate mismanagement. The problem is not the devices," Huseby said at the time. "The problem was that the decisions that were made by management quite frankly, in terms of the demand forecast, in terms of what was thought to be good information."
That said, the writing is on the wall. Despite a $300 million shot in the arm from Microsoft in 2012, the Nook has only flagged in sales, dropping 66.7 percent for the 2013 holidays as compared to last year's. Meanwhile, Barnes & Noble is already losing major executives, with VP of hardware Bill Saperstein leaving in the midst of Huseby's ascension. It looks like time is running out for a Nook turnaround. We've reached out to Barnes & Noble for comment.
Update: A Barnes & Noble representative confirmed with The Verge that job eliminations had taken place, but hardware staff in Palo Alto had not been affected. The headline has been clarified to express that fact.