January 22, 2014

Third Nook executive in a row to leave Barnes & Noble


30-apr-al-nooks 18.JPG

Jim Hilt pictured with the future he didn’t meet …

Jim Hilt, vice president and head of global ebook sales for Barnes & Noble, will leave the company in February and B&N has no plans to replace him, according to an article by Lisa Campbell in The Bookseller. Jamie Iannone, director of digital sales, left for Samsclub.com in December, and Bill Saperstein, former vice president for digital hardware engineering, has already jumped ship.

Some personnel changes may be inevitable after Nook sales tumbled 60.5% percent over the holidays. Add that to the SEC investigation announced in December. (Not to mention the closing of its flagship location.) If not, a major change like a new CEOMichael P. Huseby, might be a sign that the staff will turn over. Crain’s reported that fifty-six employees at the company’s flagship college bookstore would be gone by February.

The company has been moving away from the Nook for some time, literally giving them away early last year. As MobyLives editor Alex Shephard reported last September, shareholders admitted, “No one is happy with the Nook.” And things haven’t been looking good for B&N for some time.

Barnes & Noble did hire a new vice president in the business development unit, Estaben Rockett, as the company told Jeremy Greenfield of Forbes in a 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.

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.

Is Barnes & Noble scaling back its digital side in hopes of dividing the company and selling its retail division? Someone get on this. Hey, Jim Cramer says it’s a good investment.


Kirsten Reach is an editor at Melville House.