Thursday, January 20, 2011

B&N Lays Off 40+ Book Buyers and More

It's no surprise that in this extremely volatile market, major publishing and bookselling corporations have been struggling. Indies closing, Borders unable to pay its bills, houses reorganizing imprints and laying off employees, etc. The one book biz staple we hadn't heard much from was Barnes and Noble.

Until yesterday, that is, when the news that Barnes & Noble was "restructuring" their office environment by laying off more than 100 staffers spread like wildfire yesterday.

Readers and industry insiders alike are up-in-arms about this new development, not only because of the firings themselves but also because of B&N's cavalier attitude toward the matter.

Here's the skinny from Publishers Weekly:
Barnes & Noble has confirmed what it is calling “a small number of organizational changes this week” that the retailer said were “designed to better align our resources with our business.” The changes appear to be mostly in the buying group. B&N wouldn’t confirm the number or names of people let go, but PW has learned that Bob Wietrak, the well-known v-p of merchandising, and Marcella Smith, director of small press and vendor relations, have left the along with a number of buyers, including cookbook buyer Lee Stern. Reports say about 45 to 50 positions in the buying group were eliminated.

A B&N spokesperson stressed that the company is reallocating resources to areas that are expanding, such as its digital operations, but had no comment on how duties of the departed buyers and others would be divided up. Publishers were shook by the news with the larger publishers wondering who would oversee merchandising, while smaller presses questioned who would be looking out for their interests. The growth in digital is great, one publisher noted, but added "someone has to be in charge of getting books into the stores."

See the article HERE
The news certainly hit home for a lot of people I know, with many of them closely acquainted with some of the laid-off employees. While I don't have any personal relationships with the buyers and other staffers that were let go, it's a sad state of affairs in publishing these days. It's upsetting not only on an individual level but for the future of the industry as a whole...

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