- Random House is to undergo massive reorganization
- What does that reorganization mean?
- Thomas Nelson, the world's largest Christian publisher and the tenth largest publisher of any kind in the United States, lays off 10% of its workforce
- Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, which had announced a freeze on acquiring new titles and whose publisher resigned, fires its executive editor, and she says that "a lot" of other employees will be laid off
- Simon & Schuster (whose Pocket Books division I was employed by in the late 1980s and early 1990s) eliminates at least 35 positions
Some in the industry are callling today publishing's Black Friday, meaning not that things are happening to put the industry in the black but that members of the industry should be wearning black armbands in mourning.
But this mess has been caused by
- Publishing's failure to keep up with changing technology (e-readers, anyone?) and readership patterns
- Dumb joint practices with bookstores (e.g., returns) that the industry hasn't changed in years
- Giving outsize advances to a few superstars who tell every squalid thing in their ghost-written autobiographies or to authors of blockbusters, instead of giving more realistic advances all around
- The recession that the United States has been in for a year already, though Bush and big business alike have been in denial until now
Yeah, I'm ticked off—and scared for my friends who still are employed by publishers and worried about what this means for my editing business.
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