Potter Layoffs
Crown Publishing Group confirmed last week that "a small number of positions" were eliminated in its illustrated publishing program, but declined to discuss further details. In the April reorganization of Crown, the Clarkson Potter imprints along with Watson-Guptill, the Monacelli Press, and Ten Speed Press were put in a division under the direction of Lauren Shakely.

Cengage Consolidates Groups
Cengage Learning is restructuring its two operating units—the academic and professional and Gale library/reference divisions—into one group. The consolidation will allow for greater synergies, more focused technology investments and more innovation, the company said. As a result of the changes, Patrick Sommers will retire as the president of Gale at the end of July, and Ron Mobed, president of the academic and professional group, will leave the company. Ron Dunn will continue as CEO of Cengage.

Ross Joins Abrams Artists
Former Collins head Steve Ross joined the Abrams Artists Agency, working both as an agent and heading up the company's newly formed Abrams Author Services. Ross will be director of the book division and will bring the consulting business he's been overseeing to Abrams. He said Abrams Author Services will offer the same kind of package he's been delivering to his clients, which means guiding authors in the editorial process and helping them with everything from title selection and jacket design to deciding on the best distribution option.

Charlesbridge Buys Imagine
Charlesbridge Publishing has acquired Imagine Publishing, founded in 2009 by Charles and Jeremy Nurnberg to do children's and adult titles. Charles Nurnberg will stay on as v-p and publisher of the Imagine imprint, while Jeremy will become v-p of sales for Charlesbridge. Imagine has done 31 titles, and Charlesbridge is taking over distribution of the Imagine imprint effective immediately.

Schnittman Joins Bloomsbury
After eight years, Oxford Univ. press v-p Evan Schnittman is leaving to become managing director of group sales and marketing, print and digital, for Bloomsbury. He will lead Bloomsbury's sales and marketing in the U.K., U.S., and Germany, across all divisions of the group. Schnittman will begin on August 2 and will work both in New York and in the U.K.

Burkle B&N Suit Begins
The lawsuit filed by financier Ron Burkle to strike down Barnes & Noble's poison pill provision began in Delaware. Burkle testified that the provision made it impossible to talk to other shareholders. Burkle claims the measure is aimed at keeping the Riggio family in control of the retailer. The trial is expected to last four days.

Stern in Limbo?
Despite an offer to oversee Crown and Broadway Books, Viking editor-in-chief Molly Stern has been prevented from leaving Penguin despite having only eight months left on her contract. Penguin says it "takes its contracts very seriously." This isn't the first time that Penguin editors have left for Random House, and sources speculate that Penguin publisher Susan Peter Kennedy is unhappy to lose another high-level editor to RH. Stern reportedly has stopped going into her Penguin office and edits from home.

AuthorHouse Reprints Harold Robbins
Jann Robbins, widow of the late novelist Harold Robbins, who wrote more than 20 bestsellers, is re-releasing 12 of Robbins's novels through the self-publisher AuthorHouse. Robbins said she picked AuthorHouse because it will make the books available over a wide range of digital platforms in addition to paperback and hardcover. The first titles are Where Love Has Gone; The Lonely Lady; and Goodbye, Janette.

Borders E-bookstore
The Borders Group has teamed with e-book retailer Kobo to launch its own e-bookstore, offering more than one million free and for-pay titles along with a selection of digital reading devices.

Harper Picks NetGalley
HarperCollins is the latest publisher to sign with NetGalley to deliver ARCs, promotional materials, and other content digitally. The publisher's initial title with NetGalley is Judgment and Wrath by Matt Hilton, which Morrow will publish August 17.