Wednesday, December 3, 2008

"Black Wednesday"

Update 12/4: Also being reported are a freeze on raises at Penguin, a delay of pay increases (until after 7/1/09) at HarperCollins, and the elimination of 13 U.S.-based positions at Bowker.

Yep, that's what today is now being labeled in the publishing industry.

As reported by Publishers Lunch and Publishers Weekly:

Simon & Schuster

Simon & Schuster has "enacted a reduction in staff in which 35 positions across the company were eliminated, from areas including our publishing divisions and international, operations and sales," according to a memo from ceo Carolyn Reidy.

Despite having "literally examined our budget line-by-line to find those areas large and small where we might further economize," Reidy says "today's action is an unavoidable acknowledgment of the current bookselling marketplace and what may very well be a prolonged period of economic instability. In light of this uncertainty, we must responsibly position ourselves for challenges both near term and long."

Separately, Simon & Schuster Children's president Rick Richter has resigned "to explore other opportunities in publishing," leaving December 5. Rubin Pfeffer, senior v-p and publisher of the children’s group is also departing.

Random House:

The first part of the Random House reorganization everyone has been expecting under new CEO Markus Dohle was announced this morning. President and publisher of the Bantam Dell group Irwyn Applebaum is leaving the company immediately after 25 years there. The publishing line itself is being absorbed by the Random House group, under Gina Centrello, along with the Spiegel & Grau unit that had been part of Doubleday. It puts the company's two big mass-market lines together in the same division, though Dohle says that they will "continue to have separate editorial departments."

The Doubleday Publishing Group has been disbanded. Knopf will absorb the Doubleday and Nan A. Talese lines, while the Crown group will incorporate Broadway, Doubleday Business, Doubleday Religion and WaterBrook Multnomah.

Thomas Nelson:

Thomas Nelson CEO Michael Hyatt announced that the Christian publishing house has laid off 54 employees, or 10% of its workforce. [...] the cuts, which take effect on Friday, affect almost all departments and were necessary because of the slumping economy.


Becky Saletan is leaving her post as publisher and VP of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; her last day is December 10.

Galley Cat ( is reporting: "The shock waves just keep coming out of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: Executive editor Ann Patty informed us this morning that she has been "fired," along with an unspecified number ("a lot") of other employees. "


Anonymous said...

There are also layoffs happening within all the HMH Companies. Riverside Publishing lost about 20% of staff yesterday and rumor has it that HMH will cut an additional 20-30% in K-12 by end of week.

WindLegendsWriter said...

The Des Moines Register newspaper reported 60 layoffs. Part of Gannett Inc., the Virginia-based media company which owns the Register and 84 other newspapers, is cutting about 2,000 workers from its newspaper work force nationwide. The reason cited?

"Daily newspapers are struggling to adjust to the online world and have been hit by lower ad sales, especially related to real estate and cars."

I spoke with a friend of mine who works for the Register and she made this comment: "Every print media I know of from NY-based publishers to weekly throw-aways are hurting. The Internet is the main culprit."

Wonder if that bodes well for e-sales?

Belle Scarlett said...

Just my 4 cents (inflation, you know...)

Tough economic times, to be sure, even the "recession/depression proof" film industry is hurting ($14.50 movie theater ticket prices and heftily marked up Raisinets (TM) don't exactly help matters) but it's a cyclical economic problem (okay, a BIG cyclical economic problem, damn thee, you sub-prime mortgage loans). But humans aren't done enjoying good stories forever, in whatever way they're delivered to them. I'm thinking, time to be writing if one is a writer, for when the sun comes out tomorrow (thanx, Annie!). Time to be reading if one is a reader, because the price incentives to buy are popping up all over in time for Xmas. Lemons always = Lemonade, somehow or t'other.

Pollyanna Scarlett

PS - Often, ironically, rounds of layoffs at a company are soon thereafter followed by rounds of fresh hiring of new staff at cheaper/entry-level pay, she added with a modicum of cynicism.

Unknown said...

I agree with 'Pollyanna'....yes, times are tough but people will still seek entertainment to get them through the tough times. That's human nature