Barnes & Noble has confirmed what it is calling “a small number of organizational changes this week” that the retailer said were “designed to better align our resources with our business.” The changes appear to be mostly in the buying group. B&N wouldn’t confirm the number or names of people let go, but PW has learned that Bob Wietrak, the well-known v-p of merchandising, and Marcella Smith, director of small press and vendor relations, have left the along with a number of buyers, including cookbook buyer Lee Stern. Reports say about 45 to 50 positions in the buying group were eliminated.
A B&N spokesperson stressed that the company is reallocating resources to areas that are expanding, such as its digital operations, but had no comment on how duties of the departed buyers and others would be divided up. Publishers were shook by the news with the larger publishers wondering who would oversee merchandising, while smaller presses questioned who would be looking out for their interests. The growth in digital is great, one publisher noted, but added "someone has to be in charge of getting books into the stores."