Barnes & Noble is planning to split its retail and Nook Media e-reader businesses into two separate companies. The split, approved by the board of directors, was announced earlier today during the company's quarterly earnings report.

The decision has been rumored to be in the works for the better part of the past two years. In a press release on the matter, CEO Michael Huseby said they believe they are now in a better position to begin in earnest those steps necessary to accomplish a separation of Nook Media and Barnes & Noble Retail. 

Huseby continued, saying they have determined that these businesses will have the best chance of optimizing shareholder value if they are capitalized and operated separately. 

Barnes & Noble was once the nation's top bookseller chain. Its Nook e-book reader put up a solid fight against the Kindle but things went downhill when the company turned its sights on tablets. Amazon ultimately won out as the preferred e-book reader while Barnes & Noble continue to struggle.

As for financials, the Nook segment brought in $87 million during the most recent quarter which is down more than 22 percent compared to the same period last  year. The division is down $274 million, or roughly 40 percent, on the year. Its retail operation is doing much better in comparison, up less than one percent on the quarter but down around six percent on the year.

The split is expected to be completed by the end of the first quarter of 2015.