Monday, December 08, 2008

News Updates from the Publishing Industry

Wow! What happened to the week? I catch one lousy cold and lose six days. This is also the last two weeks of grad school, so I'm preparing for finals. Between long hours of reading, lack of sleep, and catching cold all the time, I feel like I'm twenty-four years old again and in college for the first time. It's good to feel young (cough, cough... zzzzzz).

Even though I've been too busy to update my blog, the world of publishing keeps rolling on. These past two weeks have been very interesting ones in the industry.

Over at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, there's more bad news. According to Galley Cat:

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

That wasn't the only thing that happened on "Black Wednesday," Dec. 3rd. According to the New York Times, the entire book industry is getting slammed by the recession.

from article: In a day of especially grim news for the book business, Random House, the world’s largest publisher of consumer books, announced a sweeping reorganization aimed at trimming costs, while Simon & Schuster laid off 35 people.

The moves signaled just how bad sales have become in bookstores and followed the news this week that the publisher of the adult division of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, the house that represents authors including Philip Roth and José Saramago, had resigned, presumably in protest of a temporary freeze on the acquisition of new books.

Industry insiders were already calling it “Black Wednesday"

Follow the above link for the full story.

Galley Cat had this article about the layoffs at Simon and Schuster:

In what we understand to be two separate developments at Simon and Schuster, Rick Richter, the president of the publishing company's children's book division, has resigned "in order to explore other opportunities in publishing," while 35 other positions throughout the company were eliminated in what was described by president/CEO Carolyn Reidy as "an unavoidable acknowledgment of the current bookselling marketplace and what may very well be a prolonged period of economic instability."

It looks like the decision by Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt to temporarily suspend aquisitions is just the beginning of a much larger, industry wide reaction to the poor economy, as well as the changes in the industry as a whole. The big guys can't do business the same way any longer.

Whatever you do, don't start pulling out your hair while wailing, "Books are dead." No, books are NOT dead. The industry has been changing for several years, driven by technology and the desires of the reading public. Throw in a faltering economy and it's no wonder the larger publishing houses are in trouble. Stay informed about what's going on in the book industry, but do not panic. Or you can panic, and start turning your book inventory into a bed frame. It's up to you. Who knows, you might start a new trend in book furniture.

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