Art book publisher Abbeville is cutting its staff and lists after what president and publisher Robert Abrams calls "a disappointing year." "In today's very difficult market, we have to control costs and focus our list more sharply," Abrams said. "We'll be cutting the kind of titles that simply don't work for us."

He said he had been forced "with great reluctance" to cut staff across the board, in editorial, sales and marketing and design and production. He did not give a figure, but at least 10 people were understood to have been let go.Abrams said the company, which d s its own distribution and already distributes the titles of French publisher Flammarion here, is taking on two significant new distribution clients -- the art books of Skira and the travel guides of the Touring Club Italiano -- in spring 1999. Abbeville's spring list is also a strong one, according to the president and publisher.

Abrams blamed the lagging sales on increasing concentration in the marketplace and the move to just-in-time ordering, which for a house such as Abbeville, with its strong illustrated list, made it more difficult to ensure that books were in stock on short notice. "We just have to adjust our overheads to what seems realistic in the current marketplace," he said.