On November 15, freelance writers for Barnes & Noble’s Teen and Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blogs tweeted the news that they had been let go. “All freelancers at B&N SFF Blog were informed today they’d no longer be contracting work,” wrote Aidan Moher, a regular contributor to the blog, who won a 2014 Hugo Award for “Best Fanzine.”
Dahlia Adler, a longtime contributor to the B&N Teen Blog and YA author (Just Visiting), responded with the news that every single freelancer at B&N had been let go and that everyone who works on the B&N Teen Blog is a freelancer.
B&N Teen blogger and YA novelist Sona Charaipotra (Symptoms of a Heartbreak) confirmed that as a freelancer, she too had been let go. “I think the diverse and critical discussion we created around YA books really expanded the conversation and I’ll miss contributing to it both as a writer and editor,” she wrote.
The response from readers of the two blogs was swift. Typical was this tweet from librarian and author Claire Legrand (Sawkill Girls) thanking the bloggers for their work: “I’m so sorry this happened, and so grateful to each and every one of you for the important work you’ve done to connects books with readers.” Others, like YA author Robin Schneider (The Beginning of Everything), expressed concern about the loss to the YA community, saying, “Thank you for all of the amazing work you’ve done. When you have the time to consider next moves, just know: where you lead we will follow.”
The news of the cuts was particularly hard for many YA industry watchers to absorb, coming as it did the week after writers and editors at Bustle Digital Group tweeted that they had been laid off. Senior books editor Cristina Arreola, who provided extensive YA coverage, was among at least 14 full and part-time staffers who lost their jobs.
For Barnes & Noble’s part, the decision to cut its ties to the freelancers who created the blogs is in keeping with the underlying philosophy of new CEO James Daunt, who was named head of B&N in August and who continues to serve as managing director of Waterstones in the UK. In an interview earlier this year, Daunt told PW that booksellers are key to reinvigorating B&N. In an email, company spokesperson Alex Ortolani reiterated that philosophy, saying that B&N will be “turning to our booksellers for content and opinion.”
While Ortolani didn’t provide any specifics about the B&N blogs going forward, both Charaipotra and Adler wrote that the teen site will continue and that it will be run internally.