WordStock, the computerized inventory control and point-of-sale system that was spun off from WordsWorth Books in Cambridge, Mass., nearly 20 years ago, laid off three employees last month, or roughly 7% of its workforce.

Despite a slowdown in the opening of new bookstores, WordStock's primary customers, Glen Legere, v-p of research & development, told PW that "we're by no means going out of business. Things have been pretty stable. Our vitality doesn't depend on 100 new users a year opening up new stores. Most of our sales come from our existing user base."

Currently, 350 independent booksellers and museum stores worldwide use WordStock. To increase WordStock's functionality, the company has created several new software packages. Among the products that Legere singled out are the two-year-old customer tracking and loyalty programs. "We're trying to give our users tools to bind their customers to the store," he explained.

While WordsWorth owner Hillel Stavis originally owned most of WordStock, today he owns only a tiny percentage, and the two companies are no longer joined at the hip. They do, however, share office and warehouse space in Watertown, Mass., as well as some back-end operations. In recent years, WordsWorth has seen its own growth slow and has been forced to lay off staff and institute across-the-board pay cuts to control costs.