In a week that has seen Penguin Random House's workforce winnowed by buyouts and layoffs and the Independent Publishers Group lay off nine staffers, HarperCollins has announced that Inkyard Press, the YA imprint under the publisher's Harlequin Trade Publishing division, will be shuttered, and its staff laid off on August 1. The move comes less than a month after PRH folded its Razorbill imprint, and during a down year for sales of books for children and young adults.
Inkyard published approximately 2-4 books a month, and those titles, a representative of HarperCollins and Harlequin told PW, "will transition to [HarperCollins Chidlren's Books] imprints." When asked by PW how many employees were impacted, the representative provided no comment. Among those laid off were senior publishing director Bess Braswell; editors Meghan Maria McCullough, Claire Stetzer, and Olivia Valcarce; and senior marketing manager Britt Mitchell.
"Harlequin Trade Publishing has made the difficult, strategic decision to close the Inkyard Press imprint and transition the titles to HarperCollins Children’s Books," the publisher's statement read. "Current market conditions have posed a variety of challenges for the business, which [have] been acutely felt in the YA/middle grade space, with a shifting retail landscape, reduced distribution, and higher production costs in a price-sensitive segment. Inkyard titles will benefit from the synergies and streamlined processes as part of a larger Children’s division.”
At least one additional layoff at HarperCollins was made yesterday: Stephanie Guerdan, an associate editor at HarperCollins Children's Books and a shop steward in the HarperCollins Union, which signed a new contract with the company in February after a months-long strike. When asked about the scope and specifics of any layoffs outside of Inkyard, a representative of HarperCollins declined to comment.
Harper let me go this morning. I'm heartbroken that I wasn't able to let my authors know I was leaving, but I have the support of my family, friends, and union. If you have a lead on an editor or sr editor job, please hit me up (or I may just quit publishing to be a carpenter)— in my samwise era (@captainsteph) July 19, 2023
Following some layoffs in fall 2022, HarperCollins announced earlier this year that it would cut its North American workforce by 5% before the end of its fiscal year on June 30. Among the casualties of those cuts was the Harper Design imprint. It is unclear whether closing Inkyard and laying off its staffers is a delayed part of the cuts that were to be completed by June 30 or a new, previously unannounced round of layoffs.
Inkyard was founded as Harlequin Teen in 2009 and relaunched under its current name in 2019. Initially YA only, the imprint began publishing middle grade books in 2021. Authors published by Inkyard include Adi Alsaid, Jennifer L. Armentrout, Melissa de la Cruz, H.E. Edgmon, Julie Kagawa, Rex Ogle, Aden Polydoros, Gina Showalter, and Eric Smith. The imprint was known for its commitment to publishing diverse books and authors.
Shortly after the announcement, members of the publishing community, and especially literary agents, took to social media to decry the move.
I’m being so serious when I say this, but Inkyard was one of the best in the game and a genuine pioneer for diversity and children’s lit. HarperCollins you raggedy ass bitches— Emily Forney (@EmilyKaitlinnn) July 19, 2023
Shuttering Inkyard is a travesty. Our agency met with their team just this April. All three editors plus their publisher are an impressive bunch of passionate, talented people. I am floored.— Elana Roth Parker (@ElanaRoth) July 19, 2023
Hey friends, it sounds like news about Inkyard is beginning to make waves.— Britt Mitchell (@brittmitchell) July 19, 2023
I don't have my thoughts together yet on my departure, but did want to share some amazing books that are upcoming this Fall or have recently released that I've had the privilege of working on.
Since its inception, Harper has treated their Harlequin Teen/Inkyard staff like shit and those workers have still been putting out banging books season after season. What a hurtful way to end it all.— Laura Zats (@LZats) July 19, 2023
Needless to say, I’m very frustrated with publishing today. It gets harder and harder to sell books amidst layoffs and consolidation. Sending love to my PRH and Inkyard colleagues.— Samantha Wekstein (@SWekstein) July 19, 2023
I created a Goodreads list of 100 projects (including Relit) that I think includes every @InkyardPress writer *if I missed someone pls reach out*— Sandra Proudman (she/her/ella) Lit Agent/Author (@SandraProudman) July 20, 2023
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This story has been updated with additional information.