McClelland & Stewart, which has been publishing books in Canada for more than 100 years, announced a restructuring that includes some promotions as well as three layoffs.

Fiction publisher Ellen Seligman will continue with her responsibilities for the fiction program but will now also be executive vice president “and will play a central role in helping me run the company and in creating our publishing strategy with a consolidated editorial team,” said president Doug Pepper. Seligman edits many of Canada’s most prominent authors such as Margaret Atwood, Michael Ondaatje and Anne Michaels.

Executive editor Lara Hinchberger will now acquire and edit nonfiction as well as fiction.Senior editor Anita Chong will oversee Emblem Books, M&S’s trade paperback line, shaping its lists and introducing original titles, and working with sales and marketing on increasing Emblem’s visibility.

Most prominent among the layoffs was executive editor Dinah Forbes, who has been with M&S for 20 years and whose list includes nonfiction authors such as journalist Gwynne Dyer, Canadian politician Bob Rae and musician Dave Bidini. In the last decade, Forbes headed the mystery/crime program including authors such as Peter Robinson, Gail Bowen, and William Deverell. “Dinah is deeply committed to her craft and to her writers. We thank her for all she has contributed to McClelland & Stewart and its publishing programs, and wish her every future success,” Pepper wrote.

Office manager Barbara Phillips and editorial assistant Aruna Dahanyake have also lost their positions.

In an interview following the announcement, Pepper said that the restructuring is in response to the tough economic times in the industry. “It was to beef up some sides and unfortunately having to let some people go to be a little leaner,” he said, mentioning the need to reduce overhead costs.

The other changes will help M&S focus on acquisitions, he said. “Looking at all the things that are facing us and the industry in general, we need to refocus and by bringing Ellen more onto the executive side and doing what we have done with Lara and Anita, it’s really just to meet those times a little more aggressively and better.” Pepper said there was no reason to read anything direr into the announcement. “Everybody is becoming leaner and meaner and it’s a response to that. We’re not under threat of going under. Everybody is onside, Random House and U of T, in terms of our future.” [The University of Toronto owns 75% of M&S and the other 25% is owned by Random House of Canada]. … We’re doing well and it’s a way to respond to what we think the challenges are going to be moving forward,” he said.