Friday, November 28, 2008

More Cutbacks in the Publishing World

Wednesday I blogged about Houghton Mifflin Harcourt putting a temporary halt to acquiring more books. Now comes news that affects not just one publisher, but publishing houses pretty much across the board. The New York Observer reports that publishers are telling their editors to cut back on their long, expensive, networking lunches.
At Collins, Harper’s sister division at 10 East 53rd Street, editors have been asked to scale back on their expenses, and at Random House, several sources confirmed, some supervisors were recently given guidelines indicating how much employees should tip and which restaurants near the company’s midtown headquarters are thrifty enough to do business in.
Stuart Applebaum, Random House’s corporate spokesman, said:
“Prudent leadership should be suggesting that if your expensed lunch isn’t absolutely mandatory now, why not postpone it, or eat in the cafeteria?”
Some literary agents disagree with the new policy on frugality. Agent Ann Rittenberg said the money spent on her and her fellow agents was well worth it. Marjorie Braman, the new editor in chief of Holt, agrees:
“What happens at lunch for agents that’s important is sometimes they find out things about an editor that they wouldn’t otherwise know,” said Ms. Braman, “and then when a particular project comes along, they say, oh, it’s perfect for so and so—she’s adopted, this is a memoir about being adopted, or, you know, this is a medical book about a condition that it turns out the agent found out at lunch the editor’s mother had.”
At this point in time, it seems some editors are cutting back on their expensive networking lunches, some are not, some are doing more “dutch treat” lunches and some - mainly younger agents and editors - are moving to breakfast or after-hours meetings.


  1. It sounds as though the publishing industry's free spending days are coming to an end. I wonder if that's going to apply to the multi-million dollar advances paid to non-authors such Sarah Palin, Joe the Plumber and other "celebrities."

  2. Maybe, Jean. But I sort of doubt it. They may be more cautious, but if they think they can score big with a "name," they'll probably do it.

  3. Well I'll take breakfast or lunch. That's fine. No need for expensive martinis and ritzy cuisine. Just listen to my pitch and gimme a break, will ya? lol But seriously, thanks again for the continued updates on what and why in the pub industry.

    Dutch treat? Cool. McDonald's OK?

  4. I bet even McDonald's is expensive in NY!

  5. I'd love a time machine to zap ahead a few years and see what's up with the publishing biz by then...

  6. Ooh, Dana, wouldn't that be interesting! I'd like to see the future as well.

  7. It would be nice if they had to live like normal people - kind of like us.

    Morgan Mandel

  8. They live like a lot of business people. Their business, their livelihood, depends on networking. And they do that on their lunch hour or at breakfast or at after-hours meetings. A great deal of business depends on that connection to the people who can get you business and to whom you can give business. The free-spending days may be over, but maybe not permanently. They, like all business people, will find another way to connect. They'll have to to survive.

    IMO, anyway.


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