Week of Grim News for Book Industry
This week's book industry headlines were peppered with words such as "layoffs," "reorganization" and "cuts" as publishers responded en masse to the effects of the slumping economy. Among the announcements made this week:
• Random House (RH) Chairman and CEO Markus Dohle, who assumed his position in June, announced a new organizational structure for the company's adult publishing divisions by issuing three memos to all RH North American staff Wednesday. As part of the restructuring, Irwyn Applebaum, president and publisher of the Bantam Dell Publishing Group, and Steve Rubin, president and publisher of the Doubleday Publishing Group, will step down from their positions, as their respective groups will be absorbed by other RH divisions.
The Random House Publishing Group will absorb the Bantam imprints as well as Doubleday's Spiegel & Grau, while the Knopf Publishing Group will expand to include the Doubleday and Nan A. Talese imprints from the Doubleday group.
Applebaum will step down from his position, effective immediately, and will leave the company after 25 years of service. In regards to Rubin, Dohle said, "I am currently in discussions with Stephen Rubin about creating a new role for him at Random House Inc., working directly with me."
• The publisher of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt's (HMH) adult trade division, Becky Saletan, resigned and will leave the company next week, The New York Times reported. Last week, HMH temporarily stopped acquiring new books as its parent company, Education Media and Publishing Group, said it was not allocating as much capital to the consumer book business.
• Thomas Nelson CEO Michael Hyatt announced layoffs at the religious publisher via his Twitter feed and blog (www.MichaelHyatt.com). In a post titled "The Recession Hits Home," Hyatt wrote, "Today was a very difficult day at Thomas Nelson. We informed 54 of our friends and co-workers (about 10 percent of our workforce) that we have eliminated their jobs, effective this Friday. This will affect nearly every department in our company." Hyatt continued that while he had assured employees as recently as Sept. 19 that another workforce reduction was not planned (in April, the publisher laid off slightly less than 10 percent of its workforce), "the final Sept. and Oct. sales reports changed that."
• Simon & Schuster has eliminated 35 positions, or about 2 percent of its staff, according to the Associated Press. In a company memo released Wednesday, CEO Carolyn Reidy said, "Today's action is an unavoidable acknowledgment of the current book-selling marketplace and what may very well be a prolonged period of economic instability."
• HarperCollins plans to delay pay increases until after July 1, 2009, Bloomberg reported. According to Erin Crum, a spokeswoman for the publisher, the pay freeze is a response to the U.S. recession, and HarperCollins has not decided whether or not to eliminate jobs.