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Thursday, February 10, 2011


From Publishers Lunch.

Powell's Lays Off 31 Staffers, Citing the "Unprecedented, Rapidly Changing Nature" of the Book Industry

On Tuesday Powell's Books laid off 31 staffers, or approximately 7 percent of its unionized work force, at its stores in Burnside and Beaverton and two industrial warehouses, a move they cite as a response to the "unprecedented, rapidly changing nature of the book industry." In a statement Powell's cited "changing consumer behavior" - namely, the rise in e-book sales - as causing a significant impact over the past three years, along with "an industry-wide decline in new book sales, rising healthcare costs, and the economy."

President Emily Powell (pictured with father Michael) stated "I feel it is critical to make some very difficult adjustments at this time, to address our current reality and to prepare the company for success in the future, a future that looks very different than our business today." Those remarks echo what her father Michael Powell said last summer when turning over executive responsibility in addressing the rise of ebooks and online book sales: "It's certainly shaking up the industry, and retailers aren't sure what their role is. It's an industry with an enormous amount of flexibility, and I hope with a little help from me, Emily is going to have to make some changes to help Powell's compete and survive."
The announcement notes that Michael Powell "has been involved in the changes" and he adds, "Emily's transition to leadership of the business happened at a precarious time, at a crossroads in our business. I'm confident her fresh ideas and her understanding of technology will steer the company successfully forward."

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