'Black Wednesday' at New York Publishing Houses
It was a grim day at several publishing houses yesterday. Following the resignation earlier this week of Becky Saletan, who became publisher of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt's adult trade division in January, executive editor Ann Patty and others have been fired, according to Media Bistro. Only last week, the company had confirmed that, as the New York Times said, it is "not allocating as much capital to the consumer book business."
Yesterday Random House announced a major realignment of the adult publishing division, which will result in a consolidation: where once there were five adult publishing groups, there will now be three.
The Bantam Dell Publishing Group, including Bantam Dell, the Dial Press and Spiegel & Grau, is becoming part of the Random House Publishing Group, which is headed by Gina Centrello.
Much of the Doubleday Publishing Group--the Doubleday and Nan A. Talese imprints--is becoming part of the Knopf Publishing Group. Headed by Sonny Mehta, the entity is being renamed the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Last month, Doubleday cut 16 positions.
The rest of the Doubleday Publishing Group--Broadway Books, Doubleday Business, Doubleday Religion and WaterBrook Multnomah--are becoming part of the Crown Publishing Group, which is headed by Jenny Frost.
Irwyn Applebaum, head of the Bantam Dell Publishing Group, and Steve Rubin, head of the Doubleday Publishing Group, are leaving their positions, although Random is reportedly looking for another role for Rubin in the company.
In a memo to Random House staff, chairman and CEO Markus Dohle said that the reorganization "aligns existing strengths and publishing affinities and fosters teamwork throughout the company. It will maximize our growth potential in these challenging economic times and beyond."
In other grim news, yesterday Simon & Schuster CEO Carolyn Reidy issued a memo stating that Rick Richter, president of the company's children's book division, was leaving the company, effective Friday. Richter started at S&S as publisher of the children's division in 1996. Dennis Eulau, executive v-p of operations, will be leading the division until a successor is found.
Later in the day, Reidy followed up with a memo announcing that 35 positions had been eliminated from areas including "publishing divisions and international, operations and sales. . . . today's action is an unavoidable acknowledgment of the current bookselling marketplace and what may very well be a prolonged period of economic instability. In light of this uncertainty, we must responsibly position ourselves for challenges both near term and long."
Shelf Awareness learned that among those affected were Rubin Pfeffer, senior v-p and publisher of the children's group, who joined the company in 2005, as well as one of the sales reps to Hastings plus three field sales reps in the Washington D.C., Chicago and New York/New Jersey areas.
The New York Times reported, too, that pay raises have been frozen at Penguin and pay increases have been delayed at HarperCollins while there may yet be some layoffs at Random House and Macmillan.--Jennifer M. Brown and John Mutter