Barnes & Noble laid off its Nook hardware engineers, according to a source that tipped Business Insider.
The engineers were let go last Thursday, according to our source. This follows Barnes & Noble dismissing the VP of Hardware, Bill Saperstein in January.
Barnes & Noble confirmed that it laid people off when we asked. A spokesperson told us:
“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 organisation have changed, leading to some job eliminations. We’re not going to comment specifically on those eliminations.”
The Nook was its answer to the Amazon’s Kindle. Barnes & Noble tried making a Nook e-reader, and a Nook tablet that competed with the iPad, and the Kindle Fire. It was a bold, and aggressive attempt to fend of the rise of Internet companies that were destroying booksellers.
It did not work, though. In the September quarter of last year, Nook revenue was down 32.2% on a year-over-year basis, and it had an EBITDA loss of $US45.2 million. Those numbers made Nook the worse performing part of Barnes & Noble.
Barnes & Noble has been talking about reducing the size of its Nook business for a year. Last February, Barnes & Noble executives were privately acknowledging that the Nook line need to go.
It decided to move away from making its own devices, and focus on just doing its own applications, and digital distribution. Barnes & Noble stopped making a tablet, but continued making a Nook e-reader, the GlowLight. We’re not sure what the future holds for the GlowLight.
While it’s shedding staff, a spokesperson said Barnes & Noble remains committed to the Nook group:
“We believe we have a strong management team in place at NOOK, having recruited significant new talent. 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.”