Editor in Chief Sara Nelson laid off at Publishers Weekly
Sara Nelson, editor in chief of Publishers Weekly, has been laid off this morning, according to the New York Times Arts Beat blog. Nelson is the victim of restructuring at PW's parent company, Reed Business Information, which also owns Library Journal and School Library Journal, among other publications. (Reed is laying off 7% of its staff.) Replacing Nelson will be Brian Kenney, editor in chief of School Library Journal; he will now run all three of Reed's publishing trade magazines.
No knock on Kenney -- who I don't know -- but this is an inexplicable decision, shortsighted and flat-out wrong. Nelson is a force in the publishing industry: a smart commentator, an enthusiastic advocate and an editor with her eye on the future, not the past. (She is also, I should note in the interest of disclosure, a regular participant at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.)
Ironically, in what looks like her last column for Publishers Weekly, posted on the Web this morning, Nelson writes about "feeling kind of hopeful," in part because of her hope "that -- please, please -- publishing business firings are coming to an end, at least for a while."
She describes a couple of new initiatives for print and online, discusses some new books she's been reading and concludes: "In other words, while everything suggests that the road ahead is going to be rocky, like many others in BookLand, we're still on our feet -- and moving forward -- because we're still passionate about what we do."
Passion is passion, of course, and business is business. But this is bad business, undertaken without any attention to editorial development, to the ideas and engagement a magazine such as Publishers Weekly needs.
-- David L. Ulin