Thoughts on the Publishing Industry & These Tough Economic Times
I belong to Mike's Writing Workshop on Yahoogroups and there were a couple of News articles I wanted to bring here and share my thoughts with you:
Got this off a news website.
NEW YORK – Another book publisher is cutting jobs: Macmillan, where
authors include Thomas Friedman, Rick Atkinson and Janet Evanovich, is
eliminating 64 positions, just under 4 percent of its work force.
"Going forward we are tightening our belts in response to the current
recession, but we are also reorganizing and rethinking our business to
position ourselves for the long term," Macmillan CEO John Sargent
wrote in a company memo, a copy of which was obtained Monday by The
Associated Press. ME: Yes, I definitely think reorganizing is a MUST in today's tough economic times, but what will it mean for the publishing industry? How do you reorganize? What are the priorities?
Simon & Schuster, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Thomas Nelson also
have announced layoffs in recent weeks. Staff reductions are likely at
Random House Inc., which is undergoing a significant consolidation.
Other publishers, including Macmillan, have frozen wages or deferred
Sargent said Monday that it was "necessary to adjust our company and
become more efficient in the face of the market we are dealing with."
He added that there would be no cuts in the budget for acquiring books. Me: That's good for us aspiring authors hunting for the traditional publishing contract.
"That's 100 percent unchanged," he said in an interview.
In a move Sargent said he had been looking into for months, Macmillan
will combine its seven children's companies into a single division,
the Macmillan Children's Publishing Group, effective Jan. 1. Macmillan
also plans reductions through a "centralized business and production
group for its adult and children's publishing companies," according to
Other changes include the increased use of digital technology and
reducing Macmillan's presence at BookExpo America, the industry's
annual national convention. In the Internet age, other publishers have
questioned BookExpo's role; the show's manager, Lance Fensterman, has
said he is looking at ways to make the show more affordable and more
productive. ME: Consolidation and increase digital technology. Use of Internet Marketing, I wonder? Streamlining BookExpo of America. I think are good moves, considering the times.
"I think it makes more sense to funnel our marketing dollars
elsewhere," Sargent said, referring to the book convention.
Macmillan's publishers include St. Martin's Press, Henry Holt & Co.
and Farrar, Straus & Giroux. Macmillan is owned by Verlagsgruppe Georg
von Holtzbrinck, based in Stuttgart, Germany.
"We will remain a loose federation of publishers producing and selling
a remarkable collection of books by exceptional authors," Sargent
wrote in the memo.
Layoffs at Random House, Simon & Schuster
By HILLEL ITALIE – Dec 3, 2008
NEW YORK (AP) — The economy has crashed down on an industry once
believed immune from the worst — book publishing — with consolidation
at Random House Inc., and layoffs at Simon & Schuster and Thomas
"Yes, Virginia, book publishing is NOT recession proof," said Patricia
Schroeder, president and chief executive officer of the Association of
American Publishers. "It's sad day."
At Random House, the country's largest general trade publisher, the
man who helped give the world "The Da Vinci Code" is in talks for a
new position, while the publisher of Danielle Steel and other
brand-name authors is leaving altogether.
Stephen Rubin, who released Dan Brown's blockbuster thriller in 2003,
is negotiating for a different job after Random House eliminated his
position as president and publisher of the Doubleday Publishing Group.
Bantam Dell head Irwyn Applebaum, whose many authors have included
Steel, Dean Koontz and Louis L'Amour, is departing, effective immediately. Ouch. The guys the authors trust is leaving? Is he that expensive?
Random House, under the leadership of chief executive officer Markus
Dohle, announced the changes Wednesday as part of a "new publishing
structure" that will "maximize our growth potential in these
challenging economic times and beyond."
Spokeswoman Carol Schneider would not say whether Applebaum, 54, was
leaving voluntarily; Applebaum and Rubin, 67, have more than 40 years
of combined experience in publishing. She said that layoffs are
possible as the company's many imprints and divisions are shifted and
"There may be difficult decisions to make and if layoffs are necessary
they will be done as fairly and as quickly as possible," she said.
Simon & Schuster has been helped by President-elect Barack Obama's
embrace of Doris Kearns Goodwin's "Team of Rivals," but not enough to
save some 35 positions, about 2 percent of the staff. CEO Carolyn
Reidy said in a company memo Wednesday that "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. "
Reidy added that "the entire publishing industry is coping with these
truly difficult circumstances. "
On Tuesday, a top executive at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt resigned as
the publisher faces a credit squeeze and possible sale. Meanwhile, the
head of Thomas Nelson Publishers, a Nashville, Tenn.-based company
that releases religious books, announced that about 10 percent of the
staff, "54 of our friends and co-workers," had lost their jobs.
"This will affect nearly every department in our company," CEO Thomas
S. Hyatt wrote on his blog, http://www.michaelh yatt.com.
An overhaul has been expected at Random House ever since Dohle was
hired last spring by parent company Bertelsmann AG, a German-based
conglomerate, and began a planned months-long review of the publisher.
Last month, Random House said it would freeze pensions for current
employees and eliminate them for new hires. Me: Ouch! No pensions for new hires?
Under the new alignment, Random House will reduce the number of its
principal divisions from five to three: The Random House Publishing
Group, the longtime home to E.L. Doctorow and Maya Angelou; the Knopf
Publishing Group, a literary institution that includes Toni Morrison
and John Updike; and the Crown Publishing Group, known for such
political authors as Obama and Ann Coulter.
Applebaum's Bantam Dell Publishing Group and Rubin's Doubleday
Publishing Group will be dispersed among the three divisions. Bantam
has long been in trouble as sales for mass market paperbacks dropped,
while Doubleday has been hurt by the absence of Brown's long-awaited
follow-up to "The Da Vinci Code" and by disappointing sales for a
highly publicized debut novel, Andrew Davidson's "The Gargoyle."
Dohle said Wednesday that he is hoping to "create a new role" for
Rubin at Random House, working directly with the CEO.
"As you know, Steve has successfully led Doubleday for almost two
decades and is universally respected and admired throughout the
industry for both his publishing expertise and management skills,"
Dohle said in a company memo.
Rubin, through a spokesman, declined to comment Wednesday.
Applebaum said in a statement he had been "honored to work with a
long-standing team of extraordinarily skilled colleagues at Bantam
Dell who, book by book, year after year, consistently have brought to
the marketplace more top-level best-sellers than any other group of
Asked if he had been offered another position at Random House,
Applebaum declined to comment.
Dohle is retaining at least one Random House tradition — allowing the
divisions to bid against each other for books, a practice far more
welcomed by authors and agents than by those worried about expenses. Me: This sounds good, considering the purse straps are tightening.
"I want to stress the fact that all the imprints of Random House will
retain their distinct editorial identities," Dohle said Wednesday.
"These imprints and all of you who support them are the creative core
of our business and essential to our success."
Also, Wednesday, The New York Times announced its 10 best books for
2008. Nine of them, including Toni Morrison's "A Mercy" and Jhumpa
Lahiri's "Unaccustomed Earth," were published by Random House Inc.
TRENDS: (Thoughts from me)
What does it mean for the future of publishing? Look at the last 10-20 years. 2 Big things have happened:
# 1 - Publishing has moved to BIG publishing houses and away from medium sized firms.
#2 - Publishers spend outrageous amounts of money to support just a handful of books they think will be successful.
Print books are here to stay, I firmly believe that. Yes, there's been an expansion in self-published books for about 10 years since IUniverse and other self-publishing firms developed, but the digital media used here, is not the same digital media traditional firms want to tap into. I think we're going to see less money thrown at traditional marketing strategies and more cost effective marketing via the Internet.
People still like to sit down and rip into a meaty book. I do think the publishing industry is going to re-examine how they do business and MARKETING is a big area they are going to look at next to layoffs. They need to tighten the purse straps.
I think you're going to see less money thrown at a handful of books. I think you're going to see publishers and agents be very selective about who they represent.
That said, it becomes very important to establish writing creditals. Without name regconization it will be that much harder to break into traditional publishing, I think. Attend the Writing conventions and conferences if you can. Making personal contacts with agents and publishers might give you a foot a door esp. now.
Anyone care to share thoughts?
Posted by sgcardin
at 4:49 AM