January 1, 2010, Newsletter Issue #33: Publishing and Bookstore Layoffs

Tip of the Week

The publishing industry has been hit hard, like so many businesses and as a result has lain off thousands of employees.  Some of these industry professionals started the day they graduated from college; this is the only industry they know.  I've been reading the publishing trade magazines both on-line and off and I'm truly astonished at the number of people who have been let go. As of this writing, hundreds from publishers, bookstores, and on-line retailers. To date, PW lists approximately 70+ publshing employees, who have been let go who have supplied an e-mail address for future contact.
A couple of people who were let go recently come to mind, Sarah Nelson and Karin Taylor.  Perhaps, you've heard of Sarah Nelson, former Editor and Chief of Publishers Weekly. The publication that used to be the news and gossip publishing flash bulletin, that all of us couldn't wait to read. Over the years, the amount of news that they printed was actually old news by the time we received the hard copy magazine because the so-called news had already been distributed by PW Daily’s on-line edition. Then there's the other trade rags including Shelf Awareness, BookReporter.com, and MediaBistro, to name a few. I always looked forward to reading Nelson’s editorial column and perusing the rest of the magazine. Today, however, the magazine has a difficult time having enough to report that actually warrants publication and I’m certain at some point, not to far down the road, the publication will be minimized to a bi-weekly or monthly publication. Still, the departure of Sarah Nelson is tragic. Her witty and truthful perspectives on the industry’s moment-to-moment goings-on were a delight and informative. I am watching and waiting as to where she’ll turn up next.
The overall book business is down by about 13% year-to-date. So how will laying more people off both at the bookstores and the publishing houses help them meet their planned revenue? Oh, I am a businessperson, too and I do understand that in these times it calls for drastic measures, and yes, cutting overhead is a quick fix, but how will the people who are left at the bookstores and the publishers manage to wear all the hats that belonged to those who have departed? Working 24/7 is an option. It will be interesting to see if, indeed, the companies who have chosen to let go of so many, how they fair in the long hall. Time will tell.
Karin Taylor, was the former Director for the NY Center for Independent Publishers and had been there for 19 years. That didn’t matter when the General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen who oversees NYCIP decided to exit Taylor and pass along her duties to a junior employee. They have many programs throughout the year and Taylor is the reason these programs were successful. I volunteered on the NYCIP Writers Conference committee and saw first hand Taylor’s orchestration and organizational skills, particularly working and relying on volunteers in support of thier programs. Some members of NYCIP were so outraged, myself included, that they resigned. How will they move forward with their conference? I wish them the best, but also recognize a sinking ship and a company that is just trying to get something free instead of having to pay for it.
If you would like to contact Sarah Nelson or Karin Taylor, please visit:
PWDaily@email.publishersweekly.com for an updated/on-going list of publishing/bookstore personnel on the move.

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