Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Known commodities

As furniture chain MFI enters administration, it looks as if Woolworths will follow suit. According to the BBC News site tonight, the troubled retailer has buckled under the strain, after weeks of uncertainty, placing 815 stores, and countless jobs in jeporady. The board of Woolies, one of the UK's oldest chains, have been in talks since 1800 hours to make the formal decision and announcement, which will no doubt come by morning.

Thankfully wholesaler Bertrams is unaffected by this decision, and for them at least, it is business as usual.

In the meantime, and just to underlie how volatile the publishing business it, US publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has closed its doors to any new acquisitions, in a move that has rattled agents throughout the industry. At the other end of the spectrum, it has emerged that the Hachette Group, whose stable encompasses names as Little Brown and Grand Central Publishing, are giving a bonus equivalent to one weeks salary to each of their employees.

If things were already bad for first time authors, struggling to find a deal, they were dealt an ever bigger blow when literary agent Esther Newberg said “It is seriously going to be a time for known commodities,” in case anyone might consider self publishing instead, she went on to say "I would hate to be starting out in the business.”

Even Google is not immune. The company is reducing its 10,000 strong army of contractors, in an effort to cut costs. A spokesman for the company admitted that they had been considering this for some time, since such staff, who make up a third of their workforce, are easier to shed.

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