A restructuring throughout Macmillan USA eliminates 64 positions from throughout the company’s imprints and divisions (including cuts at their college business, central services for the whole company, and Scientific American magazine), representing about four percent of staff in all.
CEO John Sargent writes in the memo, “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.” He tells the NYT, “Book sales are markedly slower this Christmas than they were last Christmas. This is a recognition of the times that we are in this Christmas and the times that we will be in at least through the first half of next year.” Earlier this month he had written to employees, “We are now clearly in a recession and there is still no clarity on how long or deep it will be. What is clear is that retail book sales are down, advertising revenues are down, and even countercyclical businesses like education are struggling in many cases. We are not immune to these forces, and our business continues to be soft. So the time has come to take action for next year.”
Sargent tells us that while results vary depending on the account, “big nonfiction and fiction has been difficult” this season, while it “appears at least so far that children’s books are holding up pretty well through this Christmas.” Their “backlist has been pretty solid; it’s down but not very much.”
A consolidation of the company’s many children’s lines into a single Macmillan Children’s division was the other focus of today’s announcement, though Sargent says “we’ve been working for quite some time on what is the best approach to move us forward in the marketplace.” With a variety of a acquisitions and start-ups, “when you roll up our children’s business now, it’s a lot bigger than it was operating as disparate individual companies.” Henry Holt head Dan Farley will oversee the new Macmillan Children’s Group as well, with group svp Jean Feiwel running Feiwel and Friends, Square Fish, Priddy Books and Holt Children’s, and svp Simon Boughton running Farrar, Straus Children’s, Roaring Brook Press, and First Second. A head of marketing for the combined group is still to be named.
In another consolidation, the company is combining individual production departments into a single group, and consolidating business management personnel into one unit as well (except at Farrar, Straus, which will keep its own business management personnel.) Steve Cohen, who was running business management for SMP, Tor and a portion of the children’s business will oversee the expanded department.