HarperCollins Layoffs: Details and Memos

Today is a major layoff day at publishing house HarperCollins. Below, two internal memos [Updated: three], and the rumors we've heard so far:

We hear there are many layoffs in the PR department, and that high level editors are being axed. Some of that is detailed in the memos. What the memos have said so far: The Collins division is closing, and its imprints are being redistributed within the company; and the Bowen Press is closing, and its publisher, Brenda Bowen, is leaving the company.

The first memo that went out:

TO: All Employees
FROM: Brian Murray

Over the last several months, the unstable economy has had a significant impact on businesses and consumer spending. Our industry is not immune to these market forces, and there is increasing pressure on us, along with our retail and wholesale partners, to adjust.

While the HarperCollins publishing program is strong, with year over year increases in market share and the number of bestsellers, we have been unable to offset negative external pressures affecting our core business. This presents new challenges to the business in the short-term, and may have lasting effects for the industry.

As you recall, we started taking measures last fall to contain costs and improve efficiencies. Our plans ranged from reduced travel and entertainment spending to delayed salary increases, hiring and investments. And last month, we offered voluntary retirement to select employees in certain locations. The intention and hope of all of these initiatives was to reduce costs sufficiently to avoid possible layoffs.

However, given the continued uncertainty in the market and soft revenues for the company, we need to take further action to align our cost basis with expected revenues.. I have asked each division to evaluate their business and begin the process to meet this goal. Unfortunately, in some HarperCollins divisions, implementing these plans will result in a reduction in workforce. These are difficult decisions that were not made lightly.

Although we are facing new challenges today, we know that our company will again see a strong market. HarperCollins has a nearly 200 year history of managing through business cycles much more difficult than today's. I am confident that our authors, our ambitious publishing plan and our creativity will carry us forward.

And the second, with more details:

TO: All Employees
FROM: Michael Morrison

In light of the economic challenges facing us, we have decided to restructure and streamline the General Books Group.

Four years ago, we launched the Collins Division within the U.S. General Books Group. While acknowledging its many successes, we have decided to return to a more focused structure. Hence, we are closing the Collins Division and realigning the imprints.

Harper, under the continued leadership of SVP, Publisher Jonathan Burnham, will expand to include the books on the Collins general non-fiction list, Collins Reference titles and Collins Business books. The Collins general non-fiction list will be published under the Harper imprint going forward. Collins Reference, both hardcover and paperbacks, will remain intact under Bruce Nichols, VP, Publisher of Collins Reference, who will also serve as Executive Editor at Harper. The Smithsonian program will continue under Elisabeth Dyssegaard. The Collins Business list will be published as Harper Business books going forward. Hollis Heimbouch, VP, Publisher, will continue to oversee the business books program and also become Executive Editor at Harper. Bruce, Elisabeth and Hollis will report to Jonathan, as will Executive Editor Adam Bellow and Senior Editor Ben Loehnen.

Collins trade paperbacks, with the exception of Collins Reference and Collins Design, will be folded into Harper Perennial and Harper paperbacks under SVP, Publisher Carrie Kania. Collins Design's VP, Publisher Marta Schooler and her entire team will now report to Carrie, and continue to publish under the Collins Design imprint. Additionally, to further strengthen our paperback program, the Avon trade paperback line will now fall under Carrie. Stephanie Meyers, Associate Editor, will join the group and report to Cal Morgan, VP, Editorial Director.

Liate Stehlik will take over the role of SVP, Publisher of William Morrow/Eos/Avon, and will continue to oversee Avon and Harper mass market titles. Collins Living titles will be published as William Morrow books going forward and will now be part of the William Morrow imprint. Mary Ellen O'Neill will join this group as VP, Executive Editor, and take on the added responsibility of managing the William Morrow cookbooks program reporting to Liate. Senior Editor Matthew Benjamin and Editor Anne Cole will continue to report to Mary Ellen.

As a result of this reorganization, there will be staffing changes, including the departure of Steve Ross, President and Publisher of Collins, and Lisa Gallagher, SVP, Publisher of William Morrow. Lisa and Steve, both widely regarded in our industry, have been valued colleagues and instrumental in the success of our company, and I thank them for all of their contributions during their time here. They leave with my utmost respect and admiration.

Thanks to all of you, the General Books Group has been extremely successful for many years. We have achieved an outstanding number of bestsellers, won numerous awards, and continue to publish an extraordinary group of authors. Your hard work and dedication have allowed us to achieve all that we have. In 2009 and beyond, while continuing to take risks, we have to be more diligent in managing costs, excel at marketing our books and become more innovative in expanding the book buying audience. I am confident that with your continued excellence we will be a stronger company going forward.

Please feel free to contact me, Jonathan, Carrie, or Liate with any questions.

We'll update you with any new info that comes in. UPDATE: A third memo from Susan Katz of the Children's Books division:

TO: All Employees
FROM: Susan Katz

HarperCollins Children's Books continues to lead the industry with the greatest number of award-winning authors and bestsellers. We are also forging ahead on the digital front with innovative programs like The Amanda Project and partnerships with MySpace. However, as the book world becomes increasingly challenging, we must continue to be extremely cost conscious.

In an effort to further streamline our publishing operations, we will close The Bowen Press. I thank Brenda for all her hard work and wish her all the best in her future endeavors.

Additionally, we will be moving offices to join our colleagues at 10 E. 53rd Street. This is a very exciting and strategic change for the Children's Division. It allows us to work more closely with our sales team and with the adult side of the business in all areas, including editorial, marketing and sales, as well as digital publishing initiatives. We will be better able to work collaboratively on the authors we share, and to develop new important author relationships for the future. The move will take several months to complete and additional details will be provided in the coming weeks.

The Children's Division is now positioned for increased success. Our operations are more efficient and our teams are working more collaboratively than ever. I thank you all for your outstanding efforts to make HarperCollins Children's Books the best it can be.