Getty Publications recently laid off 20% of its staff in a move to compensate for a 24% reduction in revenue last year from the endowment that partly subsidizes its publication program. Ten people, including both new and longtime employees, were notified of the layoffs in the middle of April. Three of those employees were able to relocate to other departments within the Museum, but the others either lost their jobs or took early retirement. The publications department now has a staff of 40.
Publisher Gregory Britten made the announcements unexpectedly. “I was on my way to the airport to go to the London Book Fair when the call came,” he said. “I was told to cancel my trip and stay here to inform the employees affected. It was a very difficult time.” Britten said the cuts are mostly relating to non-publishing activities, including the production of brochures, maps, stationery, business cards and signage for the Museum. “We were forced to shed the non-publishing activities, which will be picked up elsewhere within the Getty organization,” he explained.
The cuts mean the Publications department will now be able to focus exclusively on its core mission as a book publisher. Rob Flynn, director of marketing, said that for the first time in nearly a decade the Getty has instigated price increases on its backlist titles in the 5% to 15% range. “We did this on a title by title basis, putting great thought into each increase in order to keep them as low as possible. But it had to be done,” Flynn said.
The Getty’s fall 2009 list represents its continuing focus in the fields of art and photography books, art history and children’s literature. It will include Small Trades, a collection of photographs of working people in Paris in the 1950s by Irving Penn; The California Missions by Edna E Kimbro and Julia G. Costello; and reissues of four children’s picture books by the late Caldecott-winner Leo Politi.