February 12 – February 19, 2009 Edition

Shuts Down
Collins Division

NEW YORK, NY/Authorlink News/02/10/09–HarperCollins, owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, has shut down its entire Collins division, which specialized in nonfiction books, and laid off more employees.

CEO Brian Murray told employees in a company memo Tuesday that “”Our industry is not immune to these market forces, and there is increasing pressure on us, along with our retail and wholesale partners, to adjust.”

Among those laid off was Steve Ross, who joined Harpercollins in 2007 after serving at Crown Publishing where he worked on President Obama’s best seller The Audacity of Hope. Also let go was Lisa Gallagher, publisher of the William Morrow division. Her division had produced such bestsellers as “The Graveyard Book,” John Grogan’s “Marlay & Me” and Dennis Lehane’s “Mystic River.”

Former Hyperion head Robert Miller and former Miramax Books president Jonathan Burnham, both will remain at Harper.

The company had flourished under CEO Jane Friedman, hired publishing stars like Ross away from other houses. But she was forced out last summer.

Earlier this month, HarperCollins reported that sales fell 25% from $406 million last year to only $305 million in the quarter ended December 31, 2008, the lowest results since February 2002. And book publishing income fell 65% to $23 million. Bestsellers on the New York Times list dropped from 92 titles a year ago to 50 titles this in 2008.

Part of the decline was attributed to the stronger dollar, which lowers the relative value of sales in the UK and Canada. Ten percent of the sales decline, or about $10 million, was due to the rising dollar, according to its SEC report, and contributed $2.64 million to the decline in profits. The bankruptcy by the U.K. distributor EUK also contributed to the earnings decline.

Apparently the Collins titles will be absorbed into Harper, but no statement has been issued just yet.