Barnes & Noble (NYSE:BKS) reported fiscal 2014 fourth-quarter earnings and full year results before the market opened today. But perhaps more interesting was the company's announcement that it will spin off the Nook Media segment from its foundering retail bookstore business. Barnes & Noble's board of directors approved the split, which will create two separate companies out of the businesses by the end of the first quarter of fiscal 2015.

This was likely welcome news for analysts, as many investors on Wall Street have been pushing for a breakup of Barnes & Noble for some time now. Nook sales fell more than 22% in the fourth quarter to $87 million for the three-month period ended May 3. Device and accessories sales in the Nook segment were also down -- plummeting 30% to $25 million in the quarter. Barnes & Noble blamed lower selling volume and discounting for the sales decline in the period. Moreover, revenue from digital content was $62 million in the fourth quarter, down nearly 19% from a year ago.

Results from Barnes & Noble's retail business, on the other hand, were a bit brighter. The company posted a 0.8% bump in revenue to $956 million in the quarter, while full-year revenue for the retail segment came in around $4.3 billion. Unfortunately, sales at stores open at least a year declined 4.1% during the quarter and nearly 6% for the year. Excluding Nook sales, comparable-store sales fell just 1.9% for the quarter.

Overall, Barnes & Noble's fourth-quarter earnings fell short of analyst estimates. Specifically, Barnes & Noble posted a loss of $0.72 per share for the quarter, which was more than the $0.59 loss analysts' were expecting. Nevertheless, quarterly revenue came in at $1.3 billion, which topped the Street's estimates for revenue of $1.1 billion in the period. Shares of Barnes & Noble were up more than 8% today in early trading on the news.

Tamara Rutter has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of Barnes & Noble. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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