Although Simon & Schuster and Harlequin posted reasonably good third quarters (see Scorecard), there wasn't much other good news in the industry last week. With a disappointing third quarter, McGraw-Hill Education announced that it was rolling back its forecast for the full year to a sales decline of 1%—2%. The company had originally forecast growth of 6%—8%, a projection that was scaled back to 4%—6% in July. The company also said it had eliminated 90 jobs in the quarter, in addition to the 300 positions that had been cut earlier in the year.
Third-quarter job cuts were also made by Reader's Digest in its Books Are Fun subsidiary. Approximately one-third of BAF's workforce of 140 employees was eliminated in late September as part of RD's effort to turn around the performance of the struggling display marketing company. As part of the restructuring, most sourcing for BAF's books and other products has been shifted to Harold Clarke, president and publisher, RD Community Books, Music and Trade Publishing.
Job cuts were also made at the Doubleday Publishing Group last week: 16 positions eliminated, about 10% of its total staff. Three editorial positions were eliminated, along with jobs in marketing, publicity and art. The cutbacks were not the result of a mandate from Random House CEO Markus Dohle, but were made after an analysis by Doubleday head Steve Rubin. There has been widespread speculation about what changes Dohle will bring to RH, but to date the most significant change has been the departure of vice-chairman Ed Volini.
Outside of publishing circles, the Conference Board reported that its Consumer Confidence Index fell to 38.0 for the month ended October 21, an all-time low. The October measurement was down from 61.4 in September and reflects growing consumer concerns about the job market and inflation.