Earlier this week , author Douglas Preston—from his quaint-but-internet-connected summer shack on the coast of Maine—posted a letter imploring his readers to write Amazon's chief executive Jeff Bezos and demand that he stop taking books as hostages in its on-going negotiations with Hachette Book Group. Some 900 other authors, including the likes of Stephen King and Donna Tartt, have joined him in his call to action. Together they call themselves Authors United, and they've taken out a full-page ad in Sunday's New York Times to get their message out.
Just last week, Hachette cut pay across the board and increased work hours. Today employees got the memo below, telling them that "certain functions" in IT and finance are going to be outsourced by the end of the year. We also got a tip that Hachette is notifying freelancers that it's cutting their rates—by 3% in one case, although it may vary.
This memo just went out to Hachette employees, notifying them of company-wide pay cuts and an increase in hours.
We've heard mostly sad news about publishing recently, from Harcourt temporarily freezing manuscript acquisitions to layoffs at Doubleday to Random House freezing pensions to holiday sales predicted to be awful this year.... but in what the Times calls the industry's "split personality," publisher Hatchette is giving out extra bonuses this year. So Christmas isn't cancelled for everyone!
Fashion magazines have a female target audience. But the look of many fashion magazines is controlled, to a large extent, by gay men. Is that a problem for the magazines? It could be. The interests of the gays and fashion-conscious women overlap, but not perfectly (see the Perez Hilton empire, example A). But is it really possible for a women's fashion magazine to become too gay? A brief perusal of Elle tells us: it just might be!
The people who run some of the (once) grandest institutions in print media are tumbling from their perches like so many fallen leaves, cast off in the face of a new season. It's not always their fault. Print is slowly wasting away, and as companies shrink, they cut off their own heads in a desperate bid to prove that they're doing something to address the problem. Not fair, but that's capitalism for you. After the jump, a list of recently deposed members of the old guard; mourn their passing, briefly.
Magazine groups are changing their management with all the abandon of the fractious Meade family in Ugly Betty. The latest casualty: dorky Victor Ganzi, who's stepping down as chief exec of Hearst with no successor lined up. (That's always a bad sign.) Magazine bosses must be feeling particularly insecure today. The rumors about Cosmopolitan publisher Hearst in the Wall Street Journal come the day rival magazine group Hachette dropped its boss of nine years. That leaves S.I. Newhouse's Condé Nast an island of stability-as long as the forgiving 80-year-old publishing magnate remains in charge. (Have the backstory on the sudden Hearst reshuffle? Email!) Update: At least Hearst isn't pretending this was in any way planned. "The reason for his resignation was irreconcilable policy differences with the Board of Trustees about the future direction of the company." And Meredith-which publishes a range of tepid lifestyle magazines such as More-just dropped its editorial director.
Surprise, surprise. As we've been predicting for months, the chief exec of Hachette is stepping down. Charming former modelizer Jack Kliger bamboozled the press with talk of a multimedia revolution after taking over the French-owned magazine group in 1999; but the web strategy never moved beyond the stage of rhetoric. After nine years, he leaves behind him a motley group of hobbyist titles and Elle magazine-with neither critical mass in print nor much of a future online.
Two commenters argued today that our coverage of the brewing civil war inside Hachette was way too harsh on digital VP Todd Anderman, who we dubbed a "digital dunce." Anderman, you'll recall, is said to have offended the sensibilities of deputies Joe Berean and Keith Pollock with a mind-numbingly-long series of reorganizations and content aggregation strategies. The case against Anderman as an all-thumbs manager was only cemented by his accidental big-screen projection, at a staff meeting, of some instant-messenger venting of work frustrations to his wife. But our comments say the fault for the disaster at Hachette lies not with Anderman but with fashion primadonnas like Zee and his allies, including former store-salesman Pollock. "Todd's reputation in this business is stellar and for you to put such a nasty hit piece like this is deplorable," one wrote. Well, his reputation isn't universally "stellar," judging from the fallout from Berean and Pollock's resignation, reported in our original post. But every feud has two sides, and far be it from us to ignore either. The pro-Anderman comments are reproduced after the jump.
After the severe bloodletting at Hachette's websites last month, one would expect remaining survivors at Elle.com, ElleGirl.com and Premiere.com might be grateful. Not so. In fact, there's been something of an uprising against digital vice president Todd Anderman (left), a clumsy transplant from Maxim Digital. As Women's Wear Daily is reporting, two of Anderman's top underlings have resigned: fashion director Joe Berean and Keith Pollock, executive editor of Elle.com and ElleGirl.com. Left unsaid? Pollock is the shopboy installed by Elle creative director Joe Zee, with whom he is said to be cozy, so his disgruntled exit from Anderman's employ will not soon be forgotten. Nor will the purported reason, a series of Anderman-instigated messes stretching back to an embarrassing incident involving the VP's laptop and a digital projector.
Elle creative director Joe Zee is popular among colleagues. "I seriously don't know anyone who doesn't love Joe: he was the best thing that could have happened for morale there." No wonder he's so beloved: the free-spending Zee took an additional five friends and colleagues to the Paris and Milan ready-to-wear shows this year-included among them his rumored paramour, a former shop girl Keith Pollock. The bill for Zee's grand European tour-probably over $500,000-comes at an uncomfortable time. Elle publisher Hachette just slashed its web staff and is giving up office space at its Midtown headquarters; and grumbly bean counters are beginning to focus on the master stylist's extravagance. "The costs are out of control, and the boyfriend who is said to be reporting on fashion shoots is really at a Four Seasons getting a massage on the company tab," writes the cost-conscious tipster. Pollock-a former salesman whom Zee had placed at Elle's website-was spared the recent online cuts.