Perseus Books Group, whose imprints include Basic Books, DaCapo, Running Press, Vanguard Press, Seal Press, and Public Affairs, laid off twenty people late last week. Publishers Weekly reports that the layoffs affect about 3 percent of the publisher's total work force; most of the positions being cut are from the publishing side of the company and a few are from the distribution side.
The publisher had already taken steps to reduce costs. Last December, Perseus president David Steinberger wrote to employees that annual pay increases had been suspended, as had matching contributions to pension accounts. "We feel we need to takes these steps now, while making sure that we don't interfere with our plans to grow the company over the long term," Steinberger wrote, adding that the company "will let everyone know when we can go back to a more normal way of operating."
Last week Steinberger wrote to employees that “it has become clear that we need to take additional steps now in order to be financially prudent and pursue opportunities to grow.”
In addition to layoffs, Perseus announced that it would cut the number of titles it will publish in 2010 by about a hundred. The company is also implementing a furlough program in which employees will be asked to take additional days off; senior executives will be asked to take “a more significant compensation reduction.” Publishers Weekly reported that the furlough program and executive pay cuts are designed to prevent further staff reductions.