It's definitely a good news/bad news kind of day.
11/21 Publisher's Lunch reports the grim news that Random House is "freezing all pensions at their current levels and will not give pensions to new employees hired as of January 1, 2009," though "the company will continue to offer matching funds, up to 6 percetn, for 401K plans." (Story is also being reported by the AP).
In the same report under "Today's Meal" however, is the report that Hatchette Book Group employees got news of something to be thankful for, an additional Thanksgiving bonus (in addition to the regular year-end bonus), which celebrates "a spectacular year".
11/20's Pub Lunch reported on the Barnes & Noble financials. In a nutshell: "Even worse than expected". Reported sales were $1.1 billion for their third quarter, and a net loss of $18.4 million. Store sales were down 7.4 percent, though the online sales rose 2%. CEO Steve Riggio said, however, "On a positive note, our gross margins continue to hold up well. We have scrupulously avoiding driving unprofitable top line sales growth with additional coupon promotions and extra discounting. Additionally, the company remains focused on producing cash flow. We are managing our working capital efficiently, which is evident in the reduction of $107 million of inventory compared to last year." (Problem with this, I'm no business woman, but that sounds as though they bought fewer books, no?).
Upcoming retailer news - BAMM reports today, and Borders releases their results on Tuesday, November 25 (after the market closes, those cagey folk!).
11/19's Pub Lunch says that "At current prices, the market value of Barnes & Noble, Borders, Books-A-Million and Hastings all together is less than $950 million. "
For those of you who want to sharpen your marketing and promotional skills, Author M. J. Rose's Buzz Your Book Class (an 8 year hit with authors that explores the creation and execution of your own marketing plan) is forthcoming. The first 25 registrants only. The 6-week on-line class runs from January 5th to February 2nd, 2009. The link at right will get you there.
Angela Knight's got another sale reported. Her 6th Mageverse novel went to Cindy Hwang at Berkley in a 3-book deal brokered by Roberta Brown of Brown Literary Agency.
Thought I would highlight a few agents who have made recent deals, too. Jennifer Schober of Spencerhill Associates had 2, count-em two, deals mentioned in the trades, and Helen Breitwieser at Cornerstone Literary made a romance sale. Check out these mover-and-shaker ladies via the links, stage right!
For some auspicious, yet upbeat news:
The Mystery Writers of America bestowed Grand Master status to James Lee Burke (author of, among other things, the awesome Dave Robicheaux series) and Sue Grafton (author of the perennial favorite Kinsey Milhone alphabetical series).
And for those who may have missed the event (my evening gown was in the cleaners), the National Book Awards were presented on November 19th. And the winners were: Fiction - Peter Matthiessen, SHADOW COUNTRY (Modern Library); Nonfiction - Annette Gordon-Reed, THE HEMINGSES OF MONTICELLO (W. W. Norton & Co.); Young People's Literature - Judy Blundell, WHAT I SAW AND HOW I LIED (Scholastic) and Poetry - Mark Doty, FIRE TO FIRE: NEW AND COLLECTED POEMS (HarperCollins).
It's always a great day when literature is celebrated!
Have a great weekend, and remember - buy a book. Think of it as royalty karma.