Robot 6

Barnes & Noble slashes buying staff, leaving publishers shaken

Following in the wake of the Borders Group’s worsening financial problems comes news this week that Barnes & Noble, the largest bookstore chain in the United States, has laid off much of its buying staff.

Although the company wouldn’t confirm the number, Publishers Weekly reports that about 45 to 50 jobs were eliminated. Among those fired were Robert Wietrak, vice president of merchandising, and Marcella Smith, director of small press and vendor relations. According to The New York Times, buyers responsible for cookbooks, reference books and mysteries were among those let go.

“We made a small number of organizational changes this week that are designed to better align our resources with our business,” a spokeswoman said. “Barnes & Noble is a growing company with both our revenues and new hires growing faster than they have in years.”

PW reports that publishers were shaken by news of the firings, “with the larger publishers wondering who would oversee merchandising, while smaller presses questioned who would be looking out for their interests.”

MobyLives offers commentary: “What possessed B&N to not only fire such important employees, but to do it in such a cynical (or is it desperate) bad-publicity-be-damned style?”

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