Hachette Book Group and HarperCollins are both offering voluntary severance packages to some of their employees as the economic outlook for publishers in 2023 remains rocky.
A representative from HarperCollins told PW that, “as previously announced, we are working towards a 5 percent workforce reduction,” and that the company has “offered some groups a volunteer severance program” as a “part of that process.” A representative from Hachette said that the opportunity for voluntary severance is “not a permanent policy” and that “there is an end date for eligible employees to elect to participate in the program.”
The decisions come as publishers confront a difficult retail environment in which sales slowed in the final quarter of 2022 and rising costs associated with inflation and other economic factors are hurting profits. HarperCollins earnings fell by more than half in its second quarter, and profits fell at Hachette in 2022 despite a bump in sales.
Earlier this year, Kristen McLean, the industry analyst for U.S. books at the NPD Group, predicted a challenging year for the book business as Covid-19–related changes in the business continue to shake out. A number of her predictions seem already to be coming true, especially one foreseeing that publishers would make some layoffs as they work to improve their returns on investment in the face of higher costs.