Names of some employees who have accepted Penguin Random House's "voluntary separation offer" (VSO) are beginning to come out—even as a letter from Penguin Random House CEO Nihar Malaviya confirmed that long-rumored layoffs have become a reality.

"As you know, the book marketplace has had several shifts over the past years," Malaviya wrote in a letter to staff on July 18. "At Penguin Random House, we, too, have experienced these shifts and changes, especially during the last months. We are halfway through 2023, and while the book market has grown, particularly over recent years, we have also faced significantly increased costs in all areas across the board, and we expect these increases, as well as inflation, to continue."

The letter continued: "We have been taking various actions over the last months to adapt our business to these market realities, and I’m sad to share the news that yesterday some of our colleagues across the company were informed that their roles will be eliminated. Everyone being affected has been informed directly in individual meetings. We long sought to avoid these actions, but unfortunately could not do so. This was the hardest decision I have had to make as a leader.

"Our immediate focus is on helping the people who are leaving Penguin Random House and supporting them through this transition. We will support them with severance packages and outplacement services to assist in finding their next opportunity, as well as a notice period of nearly two and a half months. We will also work with them to explore any internal openings that are currently available."

The news of the layoffs came as the names of employees who accepted the buyout offer spread. Last week, the publisher's Penguin Young Readers division announced three pending departures, although the announcements did not refer specifically to the employees concerned taking buyouts. Nadine Britt, senior v-p and executive director of production at Penguin Young Readers, will leave the company on December 15. Deborah Kaplan, v-p and executive director of art and design at Penguin Young Readers, will retire in September after 31 years at the company. Gerard Mancini, v-p and executive director of managing and production editorial at Penguin Young Readers, who has been with the publisher since he joined Viking Children’s Books in 1985, will retire in December.

On Monday, the Associated Press reported that editors Ann Close, Jonathan Segal, and Vicky Wilson have also taken buyouts. New York magazine followed up with its own reporting, naming "Viking editors Wendy Wolf (there since 1994, her writers have included Nathaniel Philbrick, John Barry, and Steven Pinker); Rick Kot (he’s edited Barbra Streisand, Andrew Ross Sorkin, and Ray Kurzweil), and Paul Slovak (Amor Towles, Elizabeth Gilbert, and David Byrne)." At Knopf, managing editor Kathy Hourigan, "who has worked with Robert Caro on all his books dating back to The Power Broker," will also take a buyout, the magazine reported, as will head of production Andy Hughes, head of publicity Nicholas Latimer, and editor Shelley Wanger.

In total, PRH sources previously told PW that 49% of those eligible for VSOs had taken them. (To be eligible, employees must be at least 60 years old and have worked at PRH for 15 years or more.)

PRH began rolling out its VSO plan this spring, and since then, rumors swirled that the the buyouts would be accompanied by layoffs. As confirmed by Malaviya's memo, those layoffs have indeed begun, although news outlets including PW have yet to determine their number. Among those let go, the AP reported, were Daniel Halpern, who joined Knopf in 2021 after heading Ecco at HarperCollins since the 1970s. Publishers Lunch reported that Cal Morgan, an executive editor at Riverhead Books, has also been laid off.

"We will make space and time to express our deep appreciation for our colleagues who are leaving and who have played an important role in writing the Penguin Random House story, and will do our best to help those who remain to digest these changes among their teams," Malaviya added, in his letter.