Hachette Book Group, who is currently engaged in a tumultuous battle with Amazon, sent out a statement to its employees regarding news that they would begin a round of layoffs that would cut three percent of its US staff, or roughly thirty people. According to the company, this news is unrelated to the drama unfolding over sales contracts with the world’s largest book retail chain, but has actually been in the works for several months.
According to a statement issued by the company: “”Today, we had to make some difficult changes at HBG as part of a cost-savings initiative that will improve our company’s resilience to a changing marketplace and position HBG for future growth. Unfortunately, these changes mean that some of our colleagues will be leaving the company.”
On the one hand, now that the industry has a firm grip on ebook publication, digital rights, and other aspects associated with the digital publishing boom, there may very well be positions that are no longer as necessary as before. The teams of professionals that publishers relied upon to create digital editions and to further their social media strategies may be seen as superfluous in a publishing climate that has its digital legs under it.
However, in spite of the announcement that this move has nothing to do with the ongoing negotiations with Amazon, this has been a trying and expensive time for traditional publishing houses. Apart from the growing sentiment that self-publishing may lead to better returns and longer careers, there’s the recent costly settlement over allegations of price fixing to contend with, as well as the loss of untold amounts due to Amazon’s removal of pre-order buttons on Hachette titles, and their refusal to sell or deliver certain HBG titles under their contract matter is resolved. Despite assurances from the publisher, those obstacles were costly and may continue to have lasting impact on not only HBG, but other major publishing houses who are working to stay relevant…and stay open.